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Till Debt Do Us Part

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Prologue: Not everything that glitters is gold

 

Tine’s heart beat quickly in the confines of his chest as he looked at himself in the floor length mirror. He steadily stared at his reflection, turning here and there as he looked at his clothing. He sluggishly stretched out his leg as he admired the white traditional pants that went just a bit past his knee. His gaze made its way down to his white knee length socks which seamlessly travelled up his legs and disappeared beneath the fabric of his pants. He absentmindedly adjusted the collar of his white jacket before his fingers slowly trailed down the smooth fabric and rested heavily on the buttons pressing against his torso. He looked handsome. He may not have felt particularly serene at the present moment, but he could admit that this was probably the best he had ever looked in his adult life.

 

 

He had never worn such traditional clothing before in any capacity. In fact he would have rather worn his skinny jeans with the hole in the knees with a nice crisp T-shirt. It wouldn’t have necessarily been appropriate for a wedding, let alone his own wedding, but at least he would have been comfortable. If he was going to go through with this, then he would have at least preferred to wear his worn out converse sneakers instead of these fucking awful black dress shoes that were cutting off all necessary circulation to his toes. The music from outside grew louder and nearer, which made his heart speed up. It was almost show time. He knew that his groom’s family were almost there. His eyes flickered closed as he took five long deep breaths in to calm his nerves and let out five slow shaky exhales. Tine could not recall the last time he had ever been this nervous. He hadn’t even been this nervous the time when his brother dared him to climb up on their roof when he was thirteen. He had to get a cast, miss school for a week, but even then he was much calmer than now. Now he had so much at stake. His family’s entire reputation did.

 

He felt a warm firm squeeze on his shoulder and immediately opened his eyes to see one of his groomsmen standing behind him. Fong studied Tine’s expression through the mirror, worry clearly etched in his smooth features. Tine did his best to force a cheery smile at his friend. He didn’t want him to worry and he definitely didn’t want him to truly see how scared he was about getting married.

 

“Hey,” Fong smiled at his good friend as he playfully shook him, “I can’t believe this is happening.” Unsurprisingly, Tine couldn’t believe it either. He had never imagined in his wildest dreams that he, Tine Teepakorn, would be getting married to one of the wealthiest most eligible bachelors in Thailand. “It seems like yesterday you were asking me to give you the LineId of any and every woman that I knew and now today you’re going to get married.” He laughed and poked Tine’s back.

 

“Yea and you’re getting married to a dude!” His other groomsman Ohm laughed as he laid across Tine’s childhood bed, wrinkling up his suit in the process “That was the part that really threw us for a loop.” His friend rolled to his side and smirked, “Had I known you were bi I would have hooked you up with so many dudes from my classes when we were in school, but now it’s too late and you’ll be gone forever.” Tine’s third groomsman Phuak who was sitting at the edge of the bed leaned over and smacked Ohm across the back of his head, it was hard enough to make the other boy hiss in pain. “Shit! What the hell?!” Ohm turned quickly on the bed and pinched the sensitive skin behind Phuak’s knee. Phuak jumped off the mattress with a yelp and rubbed the tender spot while glaring at his friend who was in turn smiling triumphantly at his retaliation.

 

Tine smiled at his friends, he was going to miss this feeling of normalcy for a bit, but he knew that his situation was only temporary. He just couldn’t tell his best friends that. In fact, he really couldn’t tell them anything at all and the secrecy was weighing on him more than the idea of getting married. Tine was not great at keeping secrets, which made his predicament even harder. He sighed and walked over to his window, a small smile playing on his lips as he heard the singing and music wafting through the walls from beyond. He peered outside and saw that the colourful traditional outfits of his groom’s travelling party had arrived. He’s here. This was getting real. Very real. He unlocked the latch and lifted up the window pane. From the chorus of laughter, he knew that his family members were playfully blocking his husband to be from getting into the house by using ‘gates’ made from necklaces. His groom would have to either give them envelopes full of money to get past or sing something. Since Tine heard no singing he could only assume that money was being handed out. The other man wasn’t any fun. His betrothed was reserved and stoic, which was very much the opposite of Tine.

 

He could see the frantic and constant bright flashes of reporter’s cameras surrounding the group outside. He shook his head and furrowed his brow. The paparazzi and the press watching their every move was going to make this marriage ten times more difficult for Tine, but he was prepared for it. Or he at least hoped that he was thick skinned enough to deal with it or this marriage thing would never work.

 

Phuak rolled his eyes and gestured to Tine, “You’re acting like he’s dying or something. Tine’s just getting married.” He folded his arms across his chest and shook his head.

 

Ohm laughed, “Aren’t those two the same things. Check it out,” He put his hand out and counted on his fingers, “He’ll probably never see his friends again, probably never have fun again, will never fool around with random girls again, he’ll probably never even have,” Ohm paused for affect, “sex again. So, if you ask me, marriage is a lot like death.”

 

Phuak gave short laugh that sounded like a snort, “What the hell man, you’re fucking married.”

 

Ohm nodded in defeat, “Yea, my point exactly. It’s death.”

 

The other three men rolled their eyes at Ohm in unison before their attention was diverted to a light knock on the door. Ohm quickly hopped off the bed to smooth down his clothes as he stood beside Phuak who was also trying to fix his hair. Tine glanced at his reflection one last time as he looked in the mirror.

 

 He took a deep breath and walked over to open his bedroom door. He was greeted by his mother and father. Tine could hear the rustling of his friend’s outfits behind him indicating that they were all bowing in respect to his parents. His mother’s eyes were puffy and red. He knew that she had been crying, but he also knew that her tears weren’t necessarily happy tears, but bittersweet. She reached out and touched the top of Tine’s head gently. His father stood tall and proud, tears trailing down his cheeks as he looked at his youngest child. He clapped Tine on the shoulder and beamed proudly. Tine did his best to ignore the heavy feeling in his chest and forced another smile. For a quick moment, he studied his dad. He noticed the bags under his eyes and the crows’ feet that crinkled in the corners of them. Everyone had always told him that he was a clone of his dad when he was younger and now standing here, looking at his father’s beaming smile, Tine could truly see it. His dad meant the world to Tine. He would do anything, anything, for him.

 

His mom gently fixed his hair and then took a step back to look at him, “Are you ready?” He could see the other unasked questions in her eyes. She knew the real situation and he knew that she wanted to know if he was still going to go through with this. He knew that she was trying to give him an out if he needed one. Most importantly, he knew that she would still love him even if he did back out of this. But for Tine, that was absolutely out of the question.

 

Tine bowed to his parents as a sign of respect and also because he didn’t want his mother to see the worry on his face. He closed his eyes and gave himself a firm pep talk in his head. He could do this. He was strong. This was for the best. This was for the greater good. Plastering on a convincing smile, he stood back up and laughed, “Yep! Mr. Chic is ready to get married.” She stared at him for a moment and then offered him a small smile. The look of relief on his mother’s face, the smoothing of her worry lines, told him that his mask had fooled her and if he could fool her then this was going to be easier than he thought.

 

His dad laughed and shook his head as he watched his son lean in to tightly embrace his mother, “Soon you’ll be Mr. Guntithanon.” Tine bristled at the thought of changing his name. Surely he wouldn’t be expected to do that. Would he? Tine cleared his throat and reached out to hug his father. His dad pat his back gently and released him. “We can’t keep your groom waiting.” His dad said softly before moving towards the stairs.

 

Tine looked back at his friends who were giving him encouraging smiles and thumbs up. The trio made their way to the door and scurried down the stairs so that Tine and his parents could enter the living room together without them in the way. Tine glanced over at his mom and grinned even though he was terrified inside. She took his hand in her own and squeezed gently. He nodded slowly and followed behind his dad, his mother by Tine’s side.

 

Once they made their way down the stairs Tine was shocked to see so many people crammed into his parent’s modest home. He swallowed slowly and scanned the room, taking in familiar and unfamiliar faces before his gaze finally settled on him. The man he was about to marry. Sarawat.

 

Tine’s breath hitched in his throat as he stared at the man approaching them. In the past, Tine could honestly look at a man and acknowledge that they may have been attractive or good looking. But he did that to mostly scope out his competition when trying to land some girls. However, he had never considered a man or woman breathtaking or ethereal.  He had never ever thought that way, until he gazed at Sarawat at this very moment. Sarawat wore a similar traditional suit to Tine’s, but his shirt was made from silk and had gold buttons down the front. His pants were black in comparison to Tine’s white ones. His dark brown hair had been combed back to reveal his flawless tanned skin and handsome features. Tine was in awe and slightly annoyed that he had been outshone by the other man. As he studied Sarawat, he watched as the other studied him back. He could see his husband to be taking him in from head to toe and then back up to his face.

 

Sarawat’s expression was slightly unreadable as they stared at each other. His brow was furrowed and he nibbled slowly on his bottom lip, it looked as if he was upset. Tine resisted the urge to pout at his groom’s expression. Maybe Sarawat thought he looked ugly. He personally thought he looked good, but Sarawat clearly didn’t agree. He sighed, whatever, it didn’t matter. Tine forced a large smile in an attempt to will the other man to do the same. They needed to look in love. This union needed to look happy.  Tine nervously glanced around to see if people were noticing and then peeked back at Sarawat. He let out a relieved sigh as he observed the other man sporting a shy nervous smile directed at Tine. His eyes sparkled as if this was the happiest day of his life.

 

Tine was startled by the sudden change of expression, but he was also impressed. Sarawat was a much better actor than he thought the other brooding man could be. Sarawat walked forward and took Tine’s free hand in his own. He brought it to his lips and placed a soft kiss to the back of it. Tine knew that his cheeks must have been red from the gesture. He was going to have to work on that sooner rather than later. It wouldn’t make sense for him to continue to be shy or bashful around the man who was about to be his husband. Especially since the public were already trying to expose them for what their marriage truly was.  Sarawat let go of Tine’s hand, gave a charming smile to his parents, and bowed to them. “Thank you for allowing me to marry your son.” He said slowly and calmly with his velvety tone. He straightened his back and reached his hand out for Tine to take it. Without hesitation, Tine placed his hand in the other man’s. The sooner this was over with, the happier he’d be.

 

Sarawat led them through the group of people towards two small padded tables at the front of the room. They knelt down on a cushion beside each other and faced their guests as they watched them sit down on the folding chairs. Tine placed his hands in prayer position on top of the padded table and he could see from the corner of his eye that Sarawat had done so as well. Tine closed his eyes and willed for his heart to slow down. This was going to work out. Sarawat could have run away by now, but he was here. He was committed to this as much as Tine was. Well, he had better been committed considering that this was Sarawat’s idea.

 

Tine leaned over to him, “Hey,” He whispered while keeping his eyes on the people settling down in front of them. He could see the other glance at him, “Thanks.”

 

He watched as Sarawat visibly winced before turning his head to look at him. A fleeting look of sadness transformed his face before it settled into a tight lipped smile. He gave a small curt nod and turned to look at the guests. Tine resisted the urge to roll his eyes. What had he really expected? An actual verbal response from the Sarawat?

 

Tine didn’t think very highly of the man beside him. He didn’t hate him of course. He just thought that he could be harsh, cold, overly confident, unfriendly, annoying, stubborn, and often times a bit of an asshole. But despite all that he could admit that Sarawat was selfless and he was kind. How else could Tine explain why he’d be doing any of this?

 

Before Tine even registered what was happening, the couple had a traditional head piece called the Mong Kol placed on their heads by one of Sarawat’s uncles. Water poured on their hands by their loved ones as they wished them well and that was it. It was done. It had all happened so fast. People smiled at the happy couple and began heading out to the reception hall not too far from Tine’s house.

 

After most people had already gone, Tine looked over at Sarawat expecting him to be talking to his friends, but found him staring at him instead. Tine looked behind him to see if it was actually him who had caught his husband’s eye. Seeing nothing behind him he pointed to himself as if to say ‘are you looking at me?’. Sarawat grinned, slowly walked over to Tine, and reached out to gently stroke his hair. Tine resisted the urge to duck away since there were still a few people in the house watching them. It would be awfully suspicious if Tine resisted his husband’s touches. Sarawat let his fingers comb through Tine’s thick soft hair, “I’m obviously looking at you nuisance.” He let his hand linger for a moment, appearing to study Tine’s face before he leaned in and pressed a tender kiss to his husband’s forehead. The unexpected gesture left Tine shy and dumbfounded for a moment before he remembered that this wasn’t genuine. None of this was.

 

He could see the paparazzi mulling around outside, taking pictures of them and the wedding guests. Sarawat was pretty convincing, but Tine felt that he was a damn good actor too. From the corner of his eye, he watched one of the paparazzi watching them with his camera raised. Perfect. Tine stretched out his arms and wrapped them around his groom’s shoulders, pulling him in close. As if reading his mind, Sarawat glanced at the paparazzi and wrapped his arms around Tine’s waist. He lowered his head and nuzzled the crook of Tine’s neck. Through the window they could see cameras flashing from outside. Good. It would help to have many pictures of them embracing in the tabloids tomorrow. They had done it. They were married.

 

Their little arrangement had officially begun.

Chapter Text

Chapter one: A Peculiar Idea

 

The harsh warm rain drilled on the roof of Sarawat’s white car as he parked outside of his family’s home. He turned off the ignition, unbuckled his seatbelt, and tilted his head back against the headrest. His eyes fluttering close as he listened to the tapping of water against the metal. These were the moments that he often savoured, especially after a long day. It was frustrating for an introverted person like himself to have constant attention from his peers and from the media. He had never asked to be born into a wealthy family. He had never asked to have a luxurious life. Nor did he ask to be considered one of Thailand’s most sought after bachelors. If anyone had indeed dared to ask him, he would have told them plainly that he would have preferred a life of solitude away from the noise, away from the attention, away from everything. Well almost everything.

 

He slowly opened his eyes and watched as the rain cascaded down his windshield, blurring out the world around him. He couldn’t stay out there forever, no matter how much he might have wanted to. His slender fingers drummed rhythmically against the steering wheel as he quietly hummed out a song that had been playing nonstop in his head. Music calmed him down. Music was often his escape. His phone vibrated on the seat beside him. He glanced over and saw that his younger brother Phukong had texted him. He reached over and opened the phone to read the message. He smirked, of course he was going to be late. Phukong was always late when he was coming over from his boyfriend’s house.

 

 He knew that his parents were inside waiting on him to have dinner and he didn’t want to keep them waiting. Letting out a long sigh, he shoved his keys into his jacket pocket and exited the car. He quickly pulled his hood up and walked briskly to the front door before entering the large home. It was much too large for Sarawat’s liking. His childhood home had six bedrooms, four bathrooms, two dining rooms, two living rooms, and one extremely large kitchen. He would have never dared bring his friends there. It would have been mortifying for him to display such wealth even though most people already knew. His popularity had made it very difficult to make genuine friends while he was growing up. It also didn’t help that he rarely let people into his life as well. He quietly pushed the front door open and peeled off his shoes and wet socks. His toes curled on the cold tile beneath his feet. His eyes scanned the front hall, taking in the different paintings and decorations his mother had purchased. He preferred his two bedroom condominium. It was modest, it was black, it was definitely messy, but it was his.

 

As he removed his wet coat he could hear the sounds of his parent’s voices carrying through the brightly lit home. Normally he would call out that he was there, but the serious tone from the conversation deterred him. It didn’t quite sound like an argument, but something was obviously wrong. He silently walked barefoot through the house and stopped beside the entrance of one of the living rooms to listen.

 

“...I don’t know what to do. He refuses to take anything from us. I never in my life thought I would ever have to argue with a man for an entire hour to take money from me. He is so damned stubborn.”

 

“Well maybe the situation isn’t as bad as we heard. Perhaps it’s just a minor setback. Maybe, they have some money set aside? I just cannot believe that someone like Pluem Teepakorn would be absolutely broke. Nittha would have told me! I mean, I talk with her almost every day.” Sarawat raised his brows in surprise. The Teepakorn’s had been friends of the family for as long as he could remember. His dad had grown up with Mr. Teepakorn and they were still extremely close despite the drastic differences in their financial lives and status. Sarawat’s father had developed a highly successful IT company, making him one of the richest men in Thailand and Mr. Teepakorn had opened a small grocery store in town.

 

Sarawat heard his dad sigh, “Why would Nittha tell you that her family was going to lose their store and their home? It’s embarrassing for them and she probably didn’t want to worry you the same way Pluem didn’t want to worry me.”

 

“My love, there must be something we can do? What’s going to happen to the boys?”

 

His dad cleared his throat, “They’re not boys anymore. They’re men now. Tine just got hired to a law firm and Type is a married man. They should be fine.”

 

At the mention of Tine, Sararwat peered into the room and watched his mother sit down on the couch and place her face in her hands. His dad stood still with his arms crossed over his chest. Frustration etched into his features as he mulled over what to do. “But Tine still lives at home...”His mother said quietly before folding her hands into her lap and glancing at her husband.

 

“Maybe they’ll have to move in with Type and Man once the house goes.” His dad let out a frustrated groan, “Stupid! Stupid! What harm is there in taking money from a friend? He said maybe if it was family he wouldn’t be so embarrassed, but me....he could never accept such a large sum from me. Why must it come from family? Am I not his family in some sense? Did we not grow up together and run barefoot down the streets chasing the neighbourhood dogs?” Sarawat’s mother stood up and placed her hand on her husband’s arm in an attempt to calm him down. “I’m pissed. If he won’t take money from me, then who will he take it from?!” His father dragged his fingers through his hair and shook his head, “I need to lie down.” He leaned in and kissed his wife on the cheek, “Tell the boys that I wasn’t feeling too well and I’m not hungry.” Sarawat quickly moved away from the living room and ducked into the bathroom near the kitchen until he heard his father’s footsteps disappear upstairs.

 

This was really bad. What was Tine’s family going to do? Sarawat knew that the entire family lived humbly and were considered middle class. Their extended family were also in the same status. They weren’t poor by any means, but some were definitely living paycheque to paycheque. He highly doubted that they would be able to pull enough money together to help the Teepakorn’s save the store, keep their employees, and not lose their home. Sarawat looked at himself in the bathroom mirror as he mulled over what he had overheard. Maybe Tine would be able to make enough money to help? Sarawat shook his head. He doubted he’d be able to make that much in such a short time with such a new job. What if he gave the money directly to Tine to give to his dad? No, that wouldn’t make sense. His dad would wonder where it came from. Sarawat tilted his head down and placed his hands on the marble counter in front of him. He stayed quiet for a moment and thought. The money needs to come from family. Family? His head shot up as an idea dawned on him. The right side of his lip tugged up into a small smile. What if he could become Tine’s family?

 

A twelve year old Sarawat sat quietly up in one of the trees in his backyard. His mother had warned him numerous times not to climb up there, but he wasn’t too inclined to listen. He was always careful and very athletic, so swinging up there wasn’t a hard pressed task. He adjusted the headphones over his ears and scrolled through his playlist on his Ipod. He had just added ten new songs and was eager to listen to them. When he found the one he was looking for, he leaned back, closed his eyes, and listened to the words. His fingers curled up as if he were holding a guitar and they deftly moved across imaginary strings as he tried to figure out what chords he would need to play on his real guitar. A stinging pinch on his leg forced him to open his eyes. Was it a bee? He looked at his leg and felt another pelt against his hand. His eyes quickly darted below to the tall lanky boy beneath him holding pebbles in his hand. A mischievous smile stretched his lips as he said something that Sarawat couldn’t hear through his earphones. Sarawat resisted the urge to smile at the other boy. He didn’t want him to know that he was happy to see him, so he fixed his face with a scowl and narrowed his eyes. His hands moved up to push his headphones down to the back of his neck. “Ugh, you again?”

 

Twelve year old Tine smiled up at him in the tree, “Yep, good to see you too Wat!” His smile growing wider by the second, Sarawat couldn’t help but grin at the other boy, “You miss me?” Tine tossed the pebbles he had been throwing, plunked himself down on the ground, and leaned back on his elbows to watch Sarawat. Sarawat had missed him, but that wasn’t something he cared to divulge. “You don’t need to answer, I’m sure you did. Everyone misses me.” Sarawat rolled his eyes and swung his leg over the branch he had been sitting on. He grabbed the limb and dropped down gracefully to the ground, landing in front of Tine. The other boy fished an apple out of his pocket and took a bite before offering some to Sarawat. Although the idea of biting the same spot of the apple that Tine had placed his mouth on thrilled him, he declined.

 

“I’m good.” He shook his head and leaned against the trunk of the tree. His eyes scanned the other boy. His clothes were slightly wrinkled and his white shirt had a trail of small blue stains on it. Sarawat knew it had probably come from Tine’s favourite drink. He was almost sure of it as he saw that Tine’s lips were also tinged blue. He stared at those blue lips for much longer than he should have.

 

The other boy watched as Sarawat examined him, the hairs on his arms standing up from the unyielding attention, “Take a picture, it’ll last longer.”Tine laughed as he took another bite of his apple. Sarawat rolled his eyes and looked away. Embarrassed that he had been caught staring. He was going to have to work much harder to be distant from Tine.

 

He scoffed and flicked a bug that had landed on his shirt off in Tine’s direction, causing the other boy to yelp in disgusted surprise. He turned his full attention to the other boy and grinned, “Nah, I don’t want my phone to break.” Tine appeared shocked and then pouted. Ugh, that wasn’t necessarily what Sarawat had wanted to happen, but he supposed it was better than Tine catching on to his true thoughts. Or worse, him catching on to his feelings.

 

Tine sighed and munched thoughtfully, “You know what? One of these days you’re going to be nice to me and then when you do, I’m going to make fun of you about it for the rest of your life.” He finished off his apple, chucked the core into the grass, and slowly stood up.

 

Sarawat watched how gracefully the other boy moved from one position to the next. He resisted the urge to reach out and pull a blade of grass out of Tine’s hair. What did this boy do? Roll around the ground or something? For as long as they had known each other, which was probably since the day they were born, Tine had always been this carefree being and Sarawat was very much not. He preferred to keep to himself around others and was often seen as reserved, even from a young age. “Doubt it.” He shrugged and began to walk away from Tine towards the house. He narrowed his eyes when he felt the tug at the back of his shirt.

 

“Let’s play soccer Wat! I’m bored. Let’s do something.” Tine begged as he held on to the back of Sarawat’s shirt. Sarawat reached behind him and tugged the material out of the other boys grasp. Being this close to him was driving him crazy. He had to keep fighting the urge to grab him and hold him. It was unbearable and extremely confusing. He turned quickly to face the blue lipped boy.

 

Tine was staring at him with his hands clasped together. It was extremely cute. Sarawat frowned and shook his head. Stop it. He rolled his eyes again and scoffed, “I don’t feel like beating you today. Go play with Phukong or one of the trees.” With that he turned on his heel to escape from the other boy. He wasn’t certain, but he was pretty sure that he heard Tine mutter a curse word under his breath. He glanced behind him and saw Tine flip him off before he ran back into the backyard away from Sarawat. The other boy was so amusing to him. He let out a small laugh before putting his headphones back over his ears. He was about to resume his music when he heard his dads’s deep voice call out for him from the kitchen. Was he in trouble for teasing Tine? He entered the kitchen and found his dad and Mr. Teepakorn sharing a laugh while drinking some coffee. Mr. Teepakorn beamed when he saw Sarawat enter the room. The boy stared at the older man and noticed how much he and Tine looked alike, especially the smile. Sarawat was sure that this was what Tine would look like as an adult.

 

“Wat, how are you?” He asked before putting his cup of coffee down on the counter.

 

Sarawat greeted him with a low Wai (bow) before answering, “Good.” He liked Tine’s dad. Most of the adults who dealt with his father never really took an interest in speaking to him or his brother, but Mr. Teepakorn had always gone out of his way to be kind. Even at a young age, Sarawat could see that Tine’s family were really good people.

 

“Good, I’m glad to hear it.” The older man smiled and looked over at Sarawat’s dad, “Your dad said that you’ve been doing really well at school and that you’re still practicing guitar. He’s really proud of you.” Sarawat looked at his dad who was nodding along in agreement with what Tine’s father had said. Feeling proud at the compliment, he straightened his back a bit and gave a shy smile. “So, I brought you something.” The older man reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a clear package of colourful guitar picks, “I know that these are the cheap ones and Tine tells me that there are some more expensive ones out there, but I hope these work okay too.” He handed the package to Sarawat who was slightly stunned by the kind gesture. They were the cheaper ones for sure and they would probably all wear out within a few weeks, but he was genuinely touched. “Tine helped me pick them out...” He looked around the room at Sarawat and his father, “Get it? PICK, them out.” There was a short pause before Sarawat’s dad erupted in loud raucous laughter and Tine’s dad joined in.

 

Sarawat did everything in his power to not show the cringe on his face. It was beyond difficult for the young boy, but he managed to just widen his eyes and stare. He traced his finger over the plastic of the package in his hand and waited for the two men to catch their breaths. “Thank you.” He was finally able to say as he watched them continue to giggle. He eyed the coffee suspiciously and wondered if they had put something that rhymed with the word ‘snooze’ in it. Tine’s dad nodded to say you’re welcome.

 

Sarawat offered one last small smile, turned around, and resumed the song he had been listening to before he had been interrupted.

 

He replayed that memory in his head as he thought through his plan a bit more. Mr. Teepakorn was a good person and even though the picks he had given to Sarawat had worn out, he still had them in a box upstairs in his old room. He had made up his mind that he was going to help Tine’s family. Sarawat stepped out of the bathroom and entered the living room where his mother was still sitting. She gave him a small smile as he plunked down beside her. He reached out and pulled her into a warm hug. She gripped him tightly as a sigh left her lips. She would never admit it out loud, but Sarawat knew that he was the favourite child. He took a deep breath and inhaled the all familiar floral scent she had always had. “Mom.”

 

“Wat! I didn’t hear you come in.” She said as she leaned back to look at him. Her hands gently brushed his long hair out of his face. He could tell that she was trying her best to look happy, but he could see the worry in her eyes, “Dinner’s about finished. Your dad isn’t feeling well, so it’ll just be me, you, and Phukong.”

 

Sarawat observed her for a moment without saying anything. He took her hand in his and looked at her earnestly, “I heard everything.” There was a moment of silence and then a look of confusion crossed her face before he watched the realisation of what he had said dawn her. Her eyes quickly glanced towards the doorway to see if his dad was there. She knew he wouldn’t be impressed that Sarawat had overheard the conversation. His mother looked back at him and opened her mouth to say something, but Sarawat shook his head as if to tell her to wait, “I have an idea.” She gave him an incredulous look, but he continued, “I’ll need your help.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Two: A Necessary Arrangement

Tine did his best to quietly push open the front door of his family home as he snuck into his house. It was past eleven at night and he didn’t want to wake his parents up. Trying to quietly sneak in reminded him of his high school days, but back then he was usually sneaking in or out for fun reasons. Now he was sneaking in after a long day at work. All of his co workers had been out of the office since seven that evening, but since he was the newest junior associate at the firm, Tine wanted to make a really good impression on his employers. Leaning against the wall behind him, he pulled his shoes off with some difficulty and let out a sigh of relief as he stretched out his toes. Sensible shoes were the worst, especially now since he had to commute using his brother’s old bike. He had sold his car when he found out that he was going to be working in the city. It didn’t make sense for him to drive into work with all of the traffic, so he usually rode his bike to the bus station and commuted the rest of the way. He had given the car money to his parents who had reluctantly accepted it, but eventually they came around. As tiring and demanding as his new job was, he needed it to pay back some of his school loans and to help his parents out whenever he could. They never asked him for anything, but he could tell that the store wasn’t doing too well financially anymore.  His brother and he had many discussions about how they were going to take care of their parents when it was time for them to retire. It was what had initially motivated Tine to become a lawyer.

 

He tiptoed gingerly towards the staircase and padded softly up the wooden steps to his bedroom. Tine sent up a silent prayer that his Cockapoo Teddi would be sleeping soundly on his bed as usual. He didn’t need her barking to wake his parents up. His eyes widened as he noticed a light coming out from under his closed bedroom door. Did he leave the light on when he left this morning? He hoped not, that would definitely drive up his parent’s electricity bill.

 

Tine pushed open his bedroom door and physically jumped back at the sight of his mother sitting on his bed with Teddi snuggled happily in her lap. When his dog saw him, she jumped up and bolted straight to his legs. He smiled and picked her up like a baby in his arms where she proceeded to lick his face with love. Tine had bought her when he got the job at the firm a year ago. She was a gift that he had promised to give to himself had he been successful in his job hunt. “Mom, everything okay?” His words were tinged with fear. He looked her up and down to see if she was hurt or anything. She never stayed in his room when he wasn’t there. His mom put her finger to her lips and motioned for him to close the door behind him. He did so quickly and then looked at her again, “Is dad okay? Type?”

 

She nodded and tapped a spot beside her on his bed. Tine put the dog down and reluctantly sat on the mattress. His heart began to beat quickly as panic began to take over. His mom reached out and touched his face gently, “They’re okay. I just needed to talk to you.” Tine’s hands began to sweat. His mom let out a heavy sigh and closed her eyes, “Your dad and I are—“

 

Oh shit, oh no. “You’re getting a divorce?!” Tine jumped up and covered his mouth with his hand in shock, “I know you guys have fights here and there, but you can work this out mom. Maybe go to counselling, or go on a trip, or I could stay with Type for a weekend and you and dad can do coupley stuff in the house, I mean please just don’t do anything in my room or in front of Teddi, she’s too young to see things like that and we don’t want to scar her before she’s even tw—“

 

“Tine!” His mother interrupted his endless rambling and pulled him down by his wrist to sit back on the bed. “Your dad and I are not divorcing, we’re broke. We have nothing.” Her bottom lip began to tremble and tears sprang to her eyes, “Your father’s going to lose the store and we’ll lose the house.” Tine could hear what his mother was saying, but as he stared at her it just didn’t seem to make sense. Lose the store? And the house? How did this happen?! When did this happen? He continued to stare silently so that his mother could continue, “We’ve been struggling for a few years, but we didn’t want to worry you boys so we just didn’t say anything.” She wiped a tear from her eye and then held his hand in her lap. Teddi noticed that the woman was distressed, jumped up on the bed, and placed her head on his mother’s leg, “I’m really sorry that we didn’t tell you.”

 

He let out a shaky breath, “When...how,” He paused and collected his thoughts, “What can I do? Can I apply for a loan or can we go to the bank?” His mother shook her head.

 

“We’ve exhausted our options, we’ve taken out loans, and we’ve remortgaged the house. But this is not for you to fix. This isn’t your mess up.” She squeezed his hands and forced a smile. “Type and Man have offered to take us in until we can figure something out. Which means we get to spend more time with the family and I know that’s going to be so much fun!” Tine loved his older brother of course, but by no means did he want them all to be crowded together in their one bedroom apartment, “Your brother said that your dad and I can have their room, but we said no way. We’ll all sleep in the living room together.” She gasped and clapped happily, “Remember when we took you two camping when you were four, it’ll be like that again. You loved it. Well until the mosquitoes almost ate you alive, but before that happened you absolutely loved it.” Of course he loved it! He was a four year old kid who didn’t know any better! Ugh, how was he going to get to work from there? What was going to happen to his parents? How were they going to get back on their feet? The onslaught of questions and thoughts in his mind was beginning to give him a headache.

 

Slowly he stood up and began pacing back and forth in the room, “There has to be another way mom.” He paused and looked at her. She opened her mouth, closed it, and looked down at her hands. He knew that look. She was hiding something. “Mom? Is there something else?” She shook her head and looked in every direction except directly at Tine. He walked up to her and dropped to his knees in front of her legs, “Mom, what is it?” She twisted her hands in her lap before looking at him, “Tell me.”

 

His mother cleared her throat and finally looked at him. It felt like hours were ticking by as she simply studied his face. He was about to ask her again when she finally spoke, “Sarawat wants to marry you.” Tine’s eyebrows shot up so high, he could have sworn they disappeared into his hairline. Sarawat Guntithanon? He hadn’t seen or spoken to him in years. The last time they probably had any physical contact was at Type and Man’s wedding, since Sarawat had been Man’s best man. His mother reached out and touched his shoulder, “I saw his mom last week and she said that he wants to marry you so that he can give you money to help us.” Tine’s face screwed up in confusion. This didn’t make any sense whatsoever.

 

Tine opened and closed his mouth a few times before he could finally get the words out, “Why doesn’t he just give me the money then, why do we have to be married?” That seemed like a huge leap for Tine.

 

His mother sighed, “Your father is stubborn and proud. He refuses to accept money from Sarawat’s dad or anyone who isn’t really family.” She shook her head, clearly frustrated, “He said that this is a family problem and we’ll get through it as a family.” Tine flew off the floor and stomped towards his bedroom door. Of all the stupid things to be proud about?! His father chose this situation to say no to help? How selfish! He was about to open the door when his mother ran in front of him and blocked his way. “Tine, no!”

 

“Mom, please move. I need to talk to dad.” She shook her head, “Mom, you know this is ridiculous!”

 

She put her hands out, “Tine, it will destroy your dad. He worked so hard...it will kill him to know that he couldn’t do this without having to beg his friend for help. They grew up together Tine and your dad loves that old fool, but if he accepts his help, it’ll be cementing his feelings that he failed. It will destroy their friendship. He doesn’t want to be a charity case.” Tine looked away from her and stared at the wall, he didn’t know what to make of his emotions. She placed her hands on his arms, “You don’t have to marry Sarawat, forget that I even said anything. It was a dumb idea.”

 

“If Sarawat was my husband, he’d be legally my family.” He said slowly as he finally let his gaze settle on his mom, “He’d be part of our family.”

 

His mom watched him for a moment and then nodded, “Yes, we would see him as our family. Not just family friends.”

 

Tine scratched his head as he continued to process his thoughts, “Exactly, so if Sarawat wanted to help out his in-laws, dad couldn’t say no or he’d risk really insulting Sarawat and me.” He frowned, “Wait, would dad actually accept money from me though?” He glanced at his mother.

 

She gave him a warm smile, “Of course he would. You’re his son.”

 

Tine knew how important it was to preserve his family’s reputation and his dad wouldn’t be bold enough to risk hurting the spiritual and legal bond that his marriage to Sarawat would create. His dad would have to accept the money because they would be figuratively forcing his hand in the matter. “On the other hand this is a really complicated way of doing things!” He groaned and threw himself face down on his bed. He was so tired already and now this. How nice. He buried his face in his pillow and mumbled, “I’ll think about it.”

 

His mom stared at him in confusion as she couldn’t hear him through the pillow. She could clearly see that he was distressed and wanted to give him some space to think. “Alright, I’ll be downstairs. I need some tea, do you want any?” Tine shook his buried face side to side in the pillow. His mother felt bad and regretted saying anything. She didn’t like seeing Tine so distressed. “Okay. I love you.” She turned and headed out of his room, quietly closing the door behind her.

 

Tine rolled over and stared at the ceiling.

 

Could this really work? Maybe. He was struggling to understand why Sarawat would even suggest this?  In this whole arrangement, he would be getting the short end of the stick. What was he playing at here? What was his motive? Tine thought about calling Sarawat, but realised that he didn’t even have his number. He must have had it when they were teenagers, right? Maybe not. They hadn’t been close then and they definitely weren’t close now. Thoughts and questions swirled relentlessly around his head as he tried to work through his concerns. He should say no and that this was ridiculous. He couldn’t agree to something this absurd. No sane person would. His forehead furrowed into an agonized frown. He quickly sat up, ran out of the room and bolted into the kitchen. Startled, his mom dropped the spoon she had been holding in her hand. “Tine, you scared me.”

 

“I’m sorry. But uh,” His lips pressed into a firm line, “Mom, can you get me Sarawat’s phone number?”

 


The air was chillier tonight than it had been any other night this summer. It had been an unusually mild summer with a few days of rain here and there. He was grateful that tonight wasn’t one of the rainy ones, but he would have loved for it to be way warmer. Tine wondered if the cold was an omen of bad things to come. He stood with his back against one of the looming lampposts in the abandoned parking lot. Why would the other man even suggest meeting here in the first place? The thought that Sarawat intended to murder him crept up a time or two as he continuously adjusted his coat. He pulled the crinkled paper out of his pocket again and made sure that he was indeed at the right location. His eyes darted nervously around eerie darkness, unsure of what was to come. A crisp breeze blew against him as he stood there. At this moment he really wished he hadn’t sold his car. He had asked to borrow his friend’s cars but they all conveniently had plans. Well he hoped that they would feel really horrible if he ended up as a missing person on the evening news tomorrow.

 

Dipping his hand into his pocket, he pulled out his phone and checked the time. He rolled his eyes. Of course the other man was late. It was only for two minutes, but it was enough to annoy the heck out of Tine.

 

From the corner of his eye he watched a white car pull into the parking lot and drive right up to him. He stepped back and tried to peer into the darkly tinted windows, but it was difficult to see with the headlights shining right into his eyes. Just as he had that thought, the lights turned off and the passenger door swung open. Tine slowly made his way around and peered into the car. He tried to bite back a laugh as he noticed Sarawat’s attire, but he failed hopelessly and let out a loud guffaw. The other man was wearing an all black ensemble of a baseball cap pulled low over his eyes, large black rimmed glasses, a fabric mouth mask, and a black T-shirt. “Why are you wearing all of that?” He asked through giggles as he slipped into his seat and closed the door behind him. Sarawat reached up to the roof of the car and clicked the car light on above them. Tine turned his body so that he was facing the other man and pressed his back up against the door. They stared at each other for a long moment, taking each other in before Sarawat silently began to remove the layers of items around his head.

 

“Paparazzi.” Was he all he answered as he looked in the mirror and fixed his hair. Then he turned his attention on to Tine. The young lawyer’s eyes grew wide and his lips slightly parted as he finally saw the other man properly. He hadn’t seen him face to face in over four or five years, but he had to admit that Sarawat looked really, really good. Every so often at the firm, one of  Tine’s coworkers would pull up a picture of Sarawat on the internet and talk about his looks and every single time it happened he would roll his eyes, but secretly take a peek as well. It was weird seeing him looking like that in pictures, wearing a nice suit, all adult-like. Especially since they had grown up together and Tine had seen him in all types of embarrassing situations. In fact Tine had seen multiple pictures of them bathing together as babies in his mom’s photo albums. He could also remember the countless soccer games they had played together, especially the one where Tine had kicked a ball into Sarawat’s face causing one of his baby teeth to fly out. Now here Sarawat was looking like he had just walked out of a magazine editorial.

 

Sarawat ran his tongue over his lips, “You just going to stare at me or what?” Sarawat narrowed his eyes at Tine as if he was already annoyed by the other man’s presence. Tine rolled his eyes and just like that his trance was broken. This was the Sarawat he remembered. Annoying.

 

Tine scoffed and adjusted his jacket, “Who would want to stare at you?” Well Tine apparently did since he was doing just that. “There was just something in my eye for a sec, but we’re good now. So” He smiled nervously, “Long time no see.” Sarawat lowered his head and tapped his thumb against the steering wheel as he stared off into the distance of the parking lot. Tine frowned at the lack of eye contact. The other man could have at least looked at him during this serious conversation.

 

“Yea, it’s been what?” Sarawat shrugged and quickly glanced at Tine before turning his attention back to the windshield, “Four years?” Tine affirmed this with a small sound and turned his body away from Sarawat so that he was also looking through the windshield. If Sarawat wasn’t going to look at him then why waste his energy facing him?

 

Tine leaned back against the seat and took a deep breath, “So, do you think this can actually work?”

 

Sarawat clicked his tongue in his mouth and nodded again, “What? The car? Yea it works.”

 

Tine frowned and then rubbed the back of his neck in aggravation. Was he really going to be able to marry this guy? “Your idea.” You dickhead.

 

“Yea.” Sarawat smirked, “It’s my idea, so of course.” Tine glowered at Sarawat as he wondered how it was humanly possible for a man to be so damn annoying. He had hoped that he would have grown out of it, but nope, he was the same. He told himself to calm down. As annoying as he might have been, he was trying to really help Tine’s family out of a serious bind. Did he really want to see his parent’s sleeping on the couch and floor of his brother’s apartment? The stark image pacified Tine.

 

“Okay, well I have some questions.” Tine pulled his phone out again and scrolled through a document he had written up.

 

Sarawat placed his arms across the top of the steering wheel and put his head down on them to look at Tine. “Shoot.”

 

Tine licked his lips and began to ask his questions, “How long will we be married for? How much money are you comfortable loaning? When can I pay you back? Can I pay you back in instalments? Do your parents or brother know about this? Does anyone else outside of your family know about this?” He paused to allow the other man to answer.

 

Without any hesitation Sarawat answered quickly, “Few months. As much as needed. Never. No. Just mom.  And no.” Sarawat closed his eyes and waited for the rest of the questions. Tine stared at him in shock? What did he mean to never pay him back? How could he not want to be repaid? He looked at the rest of the questions he had, shook his head, and locked his phone. “Anything else?”

 

Tine didn’t say anything for a long while until Sarawat opened his eyes to look at him. When he felt confident that he had his attention he spoke, “Why are you doing this? What is in it for you in the long run?”

 

Sarawat blinked a couple of times and then sat up properly. He looked out the windshield and then angled his body as much as he could in the cramped space to look at Tine. “Your dad is a good man.” Tine watched the other man look up for a moment and then back at Tine, “And I can help.” He shrugged, “That’s it,” Sarawat smirked, “Oh and it’ll also get my dad off my back.” That could have been true since Tine had heard through the grapevine that Sarawat’s parents had been pressuring him to get married. It would definitely make him look more responsible when he eventually took over his father’s company. But that really couldn’t be enough to make him agree to marry Tine right? Sarawat could have literally picked anyone else.

 

Tine scoffed, “No, nobody is that nice Wat.” He shook his head with disapproval, “Let me pay you back.”

“No and if you ask me again, I’ll call this off.” Sarawat gave him a slightly dirty look and then averted his gaze once again. “Just let me help.”

 

What could he make of this? The logical side of his brain was screaming that it really couldn’t just be this clear cut. “A prenup then? I can have someone at my firm write one up.”

 

“What the fuck?!” Sarawat exploded and stared vehemently at the other man, “Listen. Marry me. Help your dad. Then divorce.” He shrugged and threw his hands up in exasperation, “It’s not complicated. Don’t complicate this.”

 

Tine feigned laughter and lightly smacked his hand against his forehead, “You really think that I’m stupid enough to just marry you and hope that everything will fall into place after that?” Tine shook his head and nibbled pensively on his lip, “Wat, I’m a lawyer. Please respect that.” He shrugged and maintained eye contact with Sarawat, “I’m not marrying you unless we have something binding in writing and a prenuptial agreement. I’m sorry.” He reached for the door handle and pushed open the passenger door. “I’ll figure out another way to help my family out. Thank you so much for your time.” Before he could even turn his body to step out of the car, Sarawat reached over him and pulled the door shut.

 

Tine yelped in surprise and gawked at the man who was still leaning over him. The men studied each other, their faces closer than what was respectable for two people in a platonic relationship. From this proximity Tine could clearly smell Sarawat’s cologne or aftershave. It was a musky spicy smell that tickled his nose. His eyes surveyed the other man’s and noticed that Sarawat’s attention was focused on his lips for a moment before his eyes slowly drifted up to look into Tine’s. What is happening? His heartbeat raced and his cheeks grew warm, “Wat,” Tine finally whispered, thus breaking the uncomfortable stare down. Blinking quickly, Sarawat pulled back and adjusted his body in the seat.

 

They sat there quietly, both unsure of what to say or do. Sarawat pulled his baseball cap back on his head and glanced over at Tine, “Okay.” He said slowly. “Write them up.” He yawned and stretched his arms out, “I’ll sign it.” Tine wasn’t sure if this was some trick. How could he change his mind so suddenly?

 

Tine pursed his lips and scratched the back of his head, “Great. Thank you.” He gave a nod and quickly glanced over at Sarawat who was actively trying to look away from him. “Just some things before I go.” He waited for Sarawat to say something, but he just sat there as still as a statue, a blank expression on his face “How long will we need to be married?”

 

Sarawat didn’t say anything for a moment, but Tine was sure that he could see a small smile tug at the corner of his lip, “A year.” Tine squinted for a moment as he thought it through and determined that it was a good enough amount of time to say they had at least tried to be successfully married.

 

“Okay. Why a year?” He asked slightly confused by how specific the answer was. Hadn’t he just said a few months a moment ago? A year seemed like a century to Tine. Sarawat picked a piece of lint off of his shoulder and then arched his eyebrow before looking at Tine.

 

“No reason.” He slowly put on his glasses while still staring in Tine’s direction, “That it?” Tine probably had a thousand more questions that he desperately wanted to ask, but for now the answers he received would suffice.

 

Tine sighed and then looked down at his hands, “Yea, so I guess this is happening then?” Sarawat dipped his head and then finally stopped staring at Tine. Tine swallowed and wrinkled his nose, “We’re going to be married.”

 

“Yep, guess so.” Was all that the other man offered to the conversation. “You ready?”

 

Tine looked at him in bewilderment, “For what?”

 

Sarawat put the key in the ignition and turned the car on, “To go home.” Oh? Tine was surprised at the sudden switch of conversation. He fixed his coat one last time before opening the car door.

 

“Oh yea. Um well thanks for everything. I’ll call you if I have any other questions.”

 

Sarawat tilted his glasses down and looked at Tine. “Where are you going?”Tine silently pointed in the direction of the parking lot. “You have an invisible car out there?” He asked sarcastically. Tine rolled his eyes and shook his head no. “Close the door then.” Sarawat pulled his mouth mask on and looped the fabric behind his ears. Slowly, Tine closed the door and pulled his seatbelt on. He hadn’t expected a ride home from Sarawat, nor was he even thinking of asking. He had intended on taking a taxi home or something. The other man put the car into drive and headed off in the direction of Tine’s home. They sat in an uncomfortable silence for a bit as he drove. Tine couldn’t believe what they had actually agreed to do. He was going to marry a man that he felt like he had nothing in common with, but more importantly he was a he instead of his regular she’s. “Tine,” Sarawat’s voice startled Tine out of his thoughts for a moment. “You can’t tell anyone about this.”

 

“No one at all? Not even my friends? What about your dad?” Panic began to bubble up to the surface. Tine was horrible with secrets, he thought that he could have at least explained things to his friends. The only ones aside from them to know about the whole scheme would be their mothers. Sarawat shook his head and continued to focus on the road.

 

“No one,” He repeated and cocked his head to the side, “We have about a month. People are already looking at your dad’s store.” Tine stared at the other man in disbelief, “We’ll need to move fast.”

 

He couldn’t understand the urgency of it all. They could wait a month or two couldn’t they? “Sarawat, that’s too—“

 

“Tine.” Sarawat said firmly as he glanced in his rear-view mirror at the traffic behind them. “One month.” Tine opened his mouth to say something and then closed it again. “You love me.” Sarawat said nonchalantly, “And you want me.” He moistened his lips with his tongue, “So you want to rush the wedding ceremony.”

 

“What, ugh I do not.” Tine rolled his eyes and then made a disgusted face. Hell would freeze over before he would ever even think of something that vile.

 

Sarawat snickered, “Your dad needs to think you do.” He shrugged and then let out a slow exhale, “Or this won’t work.” Tine cursed under his breath. As much as the guy beside him annoyed him to no end, he was right. His dad could never know what the arrangement was between him and Sarawat. Not only would he feel like a charity case, he would be devastated to find out his youngest child had agreed to something like this to help the family.

 

“He won’t believe me. We haven’t even seen each other in forever.” Tine began to worry, “How do we convince him that we’re in love and getting married.” He looked at Sarawat for a long time waiting for an answer. When he didn’t get one he leaned back into his seat.

 

“Easy.” The other man tilted his head to the side, “You’ve liked me since we were teens.” Sarawat said through his mask, “And I’ve loved you forever.” He paused for a moment and then glanced at Tine, “We’ve been secretly together for a year.” Tine rubbed his temples, he was still unsure that this was going to work and he was definitely getting a migraine. He and Sarawat were going to have to do a lot of catching up and studying each other to not fuck this up. Sarawat pulled up in front of Tine’s house and placed the car in park. He turned his body to look at Tine, “Don’t stress.” Tine stared back at him and his crazy attire. “It’s fine.”

 

Tine took in a deep breath and spoke sarcastically, “Okay. I’ll try not to stress about my imaginary relationship with you, my dad being broke, and our upcoming legal marriage that’s going to take place in four weeks.”

 

Sarawat tilted his head forward, “Good.” He moved the gear back into drive and stared straight ahead, “See you soon.”

 

Tine unbuckled his seatbelt and opened the car door without any objections for the first time that night, “When?”

 

He stepped out of the car and bent to peer inside. Sarawat answered without any hesitation, “Four days. Be ready.” Tine placed his hand on the car door and pushed it closed without another word. He watched as Sarawat drove off into the distance. How were they honestly going to do any of this? He turned towards his house and frowned. It was going to be a long fucking night.

Chapter Text

Chapter Three: An  Unwanted Invitation

 

Tine was an absolute mess. He hadn’t been sleeping. He had barely been eating. He was a ball of nerves and concerns. There were apparent bags under his eyes, he had gotten a pimple on his forehead, and he was sure his hair was falling out. Needless to say he was stressed the fuck out. He had sent numerous texts to Sarawat asking for more details about the agreement and to ask about what time he was going to be seeing him. However, the man constantly left Tine on read, which further deepened his annoyance for him. His brows seemed like they were permanently knitted together all week, causing his co-workers and parents to ask him if he was okay. He had simply played it off that he was just stressed with work and left it at that. There was no need to alert others to his internal crisis.

 

He glanced at his phone and responded to the messages from his friends. They wanted to hang out that night with him, but Tine was too tired and had asked for a raincheck. After many expletives and unpleasant inappropriate GIFs of the middle finger, his friends finally agreed to another night. He checked his messages again to see if he had missed something from Sarawat. Nope. Nothing. Damn him. It had been four days already. Why hadn’t he heard from him? Maybe Sarawat had come to his senses and decided not to marry him anymore. It would make sense. Tine didn’t have much, he owned almost nothing, he was still a junior member of his firm, and he was probably considered a big fat nobody in Sarawat’s world. He wouldn’t be surprised if Sarawat had met some sexy model while he was out on the town and had immediately decided that he didn’t want to give up his bachelor life. Tine probably would have done the exact same thing if given the chance. He frowned, when was the last time he had even gone on a date? Ugh, pitiful.

 

He scowled. Well whatever, damn Sarawat and his playboy ways. Tine secretly hoped that Sarawat got dumped by the make believe model. That would teach him! He gritted his teeth in frustration. He was being ridiculous. Fuck it! He’d be fine. He just needed a distraction.

 

It was a nice Friday night after a long week of work and he was going to enjoy it. He had taken a long hot shower when he got in, pulled on his favourite pyjamas, and popped a buttery bowl of popcorn. He turned on a mindless comedy on the television, snuggled deep into the living room couch with a blanket and his faithful dog Teddi by his side.

 

His parents had gotten all dressed up to go to a friend’s party, so he had the whole house to himself. He didn’t have enough time to ask more details about their outing, but he hoped that they were going to enjoy themselves. They definitely needed it. Tine’s mother had checked in with him a few days after he had met up with Sarawat. She had wanted to know if they had made a decision about the engagement. He told her that he had agreed to go along with it and that he was really happy with his decision. That was the first lie of what he assumed would be many more. No matter how he felt about the situation, he didn’t see any point in having his mother feel stressed about it as well. She already had enough to deal with.

As he watched his movie, he smiled happily to himself while Teddi snored soundly beside him. Tonight was going to be his night. He deserved it after the hellish week he had endured. As he threw some popcorn into his mouth, his phone began to vibrate. He glanced over at the screen and almost choked on a kernel.

 

[Saraleo]

WhEr AR yu?

 

Tine coughed up the popcorn and stared at the message for a moment. Was Sarawat drunk? Why was he spelling like that?

 

[Tine]

Home. Why?

 

[Saraleo]

K

 

He held the phone in his hand and waited. After a few minutes he rolled his eyes and lifted his hand to chuck the phone to the side when a loud knock on his front door startled him. In a flash, Teddi flew off of the couch and bounded to the door while barking her little heart out. Tine slowly got up from the couch and padded softly barefoot over to the door too. He peeped through the peephole and then ducked his head before muttering out a not so silent, “Shit!”

 

“Nuisance? I can hear you.” Sarawat yelled from the other side of the door. Tine knocked his forehead against the solid wood a few times. Fuck, why was he here? It was his Friday night, his time to RELAX! Groaning, he picked up the barking dog and reluctantly opened the door for Sarawat to come in. Once he had stepped inside, Tine’s jaw comically dropped the moment he laid eyes on him. Sarawat was wearing a slim fitted black tuxedo with a black collared dress shirt on the inside. His hair had been combed neatly and slicked back. A stark difference from how he had looked the night they had last seen each other.

 

Tine’s short lived trance was broken when he saw bright flashes coming from outside of his house. He moved towards the door to see what it was, but was gently, yet firmly pushed back into the house by Sarawat. The better dressed man turned around and pushed the front door closed, then locked it. What the hell was happening? Both Tine and a now quiet Teddi, stared at the intruder in shock. Sarawat analysed them as well. His gaze moved up and down Tine’s pajamas making the other man feel extremely self conscious standing in front of him. Sarawat shook his head in apparent disapproval and cocked one eyebrow, “You’re not dressed.”

 

The hell? Tine scoffed, “For what?! Why are you here and why do you look like that ?” He gestured to Sarawat’s body.

Sarawat puffed out his chest and slipped his hands into his pants pockets, “Dad’s birthday party.” He said it as if Tine should have already known that.

“Oh.” Tine put Teddi down and she immediately began to sniff at Sarawat’s shoes. Seemingly happy with her observations, she began to whine for the well dressed man to pick her up. Tine watched in surprise as Sarawat bent over, picked up the dog, and cradled her in his arms. Clearly enamoured with the guest, Teddi nestled comfortably against him as Sarawat offered her a rare small smile. The utter betrayal! It took Tine a moment before he could finally get his senses back, “Okay, why are you here then?”

The smile on Sarawat’s face was replaced with a scowl the moment he looked up and focused his attention on Tine, “To pick you up.” He rolled his eyes and chucked off his dress shoes, “You ask dumb questions.”

 

Tine’s eyes widened before he gave the other man a stony stare, “ I ask dumb questions? Excuse me? When did you ever ask me to go with you to your dad’s birthday party and why do I have to go?” He folded his arms across his chest, “I don’t want to go, I have other plans for tonight. Exciting plans.”

 

Sarawat huffed out a breath, obviously over the conversation. He inspected the room, noticing the movie and the popcorn, and raised a sceptical brow, “I said to be ready.” This was true, but he had said that four days ago!

 

Tine narrowed his eyes and seriously weighed out the pros and cons of murdering the man in front of him, “You never said what to be ready for, asshole. And you never answered my texts. You just kept reading them.”

 

Sarawat wrinkled his brow, “Not really good at typing. So I just didn’t answer.” Tine stared at him and then understood why there had been so many spelling mistakes in the simple text he had just received. “We need to go,” Sarawat let out an impatient sigh before walking towards the staircase leading upstairs. Tine watched in horror as the man carried his dog up the stairs as if he lived there himself.

 

 Tine flew up the stairs, two at a time, in pursuit of the other man and his traitorous yet adorable dog. He screeched out loudly, “YOU CAN’T JUST GO INTO MY ROOM! THAT’S BREAKING AND ENTERING!” Sarawat ignored the command and allowed himself in. Tine flew into his room behind him, almost running into Sarawat’s well toned back. Sarawat placed the dog on the bed and confidently walked over to Tine’s closet. “What the hell Saraleo!?” Was this really and truly happening? Had he fallen asleep and was now having the most insane nightmare of his life? He crinkled his eyes and pressed his lips together as he watched Sarawat rifle through his clothes. Tine noticed a pair of his boxers lying on the floor and quickly kicked it under his bed. How freaking embarrassing. He slid his hand up his forehead and into his hair, tugging at the strands as he watched the blatant invasion of his privacy. 

Sarawat had been to his room a few times back when they were younger, but Tine had never felt as bashful or anxious as he did right now.

 

“Ah” Sarawat pulled out the grey slim fitted suit that Tine had worn to his brother’s wedding. Which was the last time that they had seen each other before all of this. Sarawat turned towards Tine and held out the outfit for him to take. Tine slowly reached out and grabbed it. “Wear that.” Sarawat instructed.

“But.” Was all Tine managed to spit out before Sarawat picked Teddi up again and hastily exited the bedroom closing the door behind him. “What the hell!” Tine managed to say through gritted teeth. He stared at the suit in his hands and pressed his lips into a tight thin line. He was aggravated to say the least. Angrily he took off his comfortable pyjamas and pulled on the gray suit.

Stepping in front of his mirror, he smoothed down the fabric, adjusted his dark gray tie, and buttoned up the two buttons of his suit jacket. Not bad. Not great, but not the worst either. He turned off his light and headed down to the living room to find Sarawat eating Tine’s popcorn and watching the comedy he intended to watch with Teddi. The small dog was on her back lying across Sarawat’s blanket covered legs. Tine pouted. How could she? Didn’t he give her all the love and treats she wanted? 

Sarawat angled his body on the couch to see Tine. Sarawat’s lips slowly parted as he stared at him, his eyebrows slowly raising. The popcorn he had in his fingers accidentally fell onto Teddi who in turn quickly gobbled it up. “Ugh Teddi,” Tine fussed before stepping over to pick up his mischievous dog from Sarawat’s lap. The two men watched each other. Sarawat didn’t take his eyes off of Tine as he slowly stood up from the couch. Tine felt extremely awkward under the gaze. In an attempt to make light of the moment he quipped “I’m so handsome right?!”

 

Sarawat bobbed his head in agreement, his pupils dilating, “Very handsome.” Stunned, Tine lowered his eyes in embarrassment at the compliment. Suddenly, he heard the clinking of ice from his glass of water and looked up to see Sarawat dip his fingers into the liquid. Slowly the other man approached him and quickly pushed his fingers through Tine’s hair. Had he not been holding the dog in his hands, he would have slapped the hand away.

“Stop! What, what are you doing?” Tine fussed and erratically moved his head.

“Fixing your hair. Stay still.” Tine could hear a slight hitch in Sarawat’s voice as if he were out of breath or breathing heavier. “Done. Let’s go.” He removed his fingers from Tine’s hair and wiped it on Tine’s blanket. Thanks you bastard, Tine rolled his eyes at the rudeness. Sarawat bent to put his shoes on by the door. He grabbed Tine’s dress shoes and slid them over to him.

“Why are you asking me to go with you? Didn’t you have enough time to get a proper date or something?” Tine asked as he put the dog down and slipped on the shoes.

 

“We’re announcing our engagement tonight.” Sarawat said nonchalantly as he opened the front door a crack. 

Tine’s blood ran cold and his mouth became very dry. “Bullshit! No way!” He stepped back in shock. “I’m not doing that!” 

Sarawat clenched his jaw and looked at the other man, “Our parents are there. My brother’s there. The press is there. Important people are there.” He let out a pronounced sigh, “Tonight is the night.” Tine swallowed hard and looked away from Sarawat. He was scared shitless. “Trust me. I’d rather be at home with my guitar,” Sarawat walked slowly towards Tine so that they were toe to toe. Tine leaned back and away from the other, the close proximity making him nervous, “But I’m here instead.” He let the words hang there for a moment before putting his hand out for Tine to take.

 

“I’m not holding your hand,” Tine folded his arms across his chest. “That’s weird.”

 

“Photographers followed me here.” Sarawat said slowly, “You need to hold my hand.” After seeing that Tine wasn’t going to budge, Sarawat dropped his hand to his side. Irritated, he scratched the corner of his eyebrow and sighed, “Listen. This won’t work if you can’t touch me.” Tine closed his eyes tightly and exhaled noisily through pursed lips before thrusting his left hand out to Sarawat. A few seconds passed before he felt the firm warmth of Sarawat’s hand in his. “Open your eyes. Look happy and walk fast.”

 

Tine reluctantly opened his eyes and gave the other man a fake smile that clearly didn’t reach his eyes, “Don’t ask for more than this. This is what I’m physically able to do right now without throwing up.” Sarawat’s eyes were unreadable.  Tine continued his false smile, “I’m sorry.”

 

“Fine. House keys?” Sarawat put out his free hand and Tine dipped into his pocket and dropped the keys into the opened hand. He pointed to the key that would lock the door, “Don’t say anything. Don’t let go.” Sarawat warned. The words sounded beyond ominous to Tine, but he didn’t want to say anything else to prolong the inevitable.

Without another word, Sarawat opened the door wide and pulled Tine beside him. Tine almost stumbled as a chorus of voices rang out from the darkness and bright flashes from cameras blinded him. What the fuck was happening?

 

“Sarawat who’s that beside you!”

“Is he your boyfriend?”

“How long have you been a thing?”

“What’s his name?”

“Why haven’t we seen him before?”

“What a cutie!”

“Tell us something Sarawat!”

 

Tine felt himself pulled through the front door. He could hear the jingle of his keys as Sarawat locked up the house. Shit, was this Sarawat’s life? Did these people just follow him everywhere asking him personal and invasive questions? Sarawat squeezed Tine’s hand and pulled him towards a limo that was parked out front. Oh shit, was this going to be his life?

 

“What’s your friend’s name Sarawat?!”

“Come on give us something!”

 

The limo driver ran out from the driver’s seat and opened the door for them. Sarawat gently pushed Tine into the car and quickly slid in beside him, slamming the door closed quickly. They looked at each other.

 

Tine let out a few shaky, shallow breaths. This was too much. Way too much.  Sarawat hesitantly reached out and lightly touched the side of Tine’s head. “You okay?” He asked. Subdued concern was written all over his face. Tine flinched under the touch, but didn’t move the other man’s hand.

 

Tine held his breath and then slowly let it out before dipping his head to say yes. Sarawat inspected him for a moment before letting his hand fall. He silently scooted back over to his side of the car and stared out the window. The limo pulled off from Tine’s house and headed towards the party. Tine closed his eyes and leaned back in the seat. His mind replayed the jarring moment of the paparazzi and all of their cameras and their questions. How did Sarawat do this? How was he going to do this? He brought his hands up to cover his eyes as one thought rattled around in his head. I’m so fucked.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four: P.S. We're Engaged! P.P.S. We're Lying

 

Aside from the sounds coming from the other cars on the streets, the limo was absolutely silent. Neither of the men knew what to say to each other as they rode off to seal their fate. Tine chewed pensively on his bottom lip as he stayed quietly huddled in his corner of the limo. He felt absolutely sick to his stomach, which was disappointing for him because he couldn’t truly enjoy his first limousine ride. His eyes roamed around his surroundings, taking in the nice leather interior, the mini bar near the partition, and eventually stopping to watch Sarawat. The other man sat there with a blank expression and was absentmindedly rubbing his palms slowly back and forth against his thighs. It was a telltale sign that Tine may not have been the only one nervous about their announcement. Tine continued to watch him and noticed how muscular Sarawat’s thighs were in the tight material, he wondered if the other man regularly worked out and hoped that he wouldn’t be expected to join him.  As if feeling that someone was watching him, Sarawat quickly glanced at Tine. Tine having been caught in his staring quickly turned his face towards the window and watched as the scenery passed them by. He could hear Sarawat moving around beside him and a sound of a zipper being either zipped or unzipped. Tine turned to see what the other was doing. Sarawat was carefully pulling a guitar out of a black case that was at his side which Tine hadn’t noticed before. Oh thank god, some music. He curiously eyed the man and his instrument. Why does he even have his guitar here in the first place? Or did it come with the limo? Wordlessly, Sarawat began strumming the guitar to a tune that sounded eerily familiar to Tine.

 

“Is that?” He angled his body and toes towards Sarawat as a smile tugged on his lips. He leaned in and began humming along with the tune. “Is that Scrubb?” Sarawat slightly tilted his head down as a confirmation and continued to play through the song. Tine feeling much more relaxed closed his eyes and let the music flow through him. The two men hummed the song in unison before Sarawat sang quietly under his breath. Tine stopped humming and simply listened to the other’s voice. Even if the other man was a thorn in his side, he could readily admit that Sarawat was a talented musician. When Sarawat was done, Tine finally opened his eyes and gave him a playful applause, “I love them. They never fail to make me feel relaxed.” Tine offered him an approving smile. The music had momentarily distracted him from where they were going.

 

Sarawat slowly strummed the guitar and then pressed his hand against the strings to the stop the vibration, “Yea. I know.” His expression softened before becoming unreadable again.

 

Tine gently rubbed his earlobe as he watched Sarawat, “You’re not too bad at singing either.” Sarawat’s eyes focused on Tine for a split second before he moved to put his guitar away back in its case.

 

“You feel better?” Sarawat inquired as he continued to avert his gaze from Tine.

 

Tine nodded, “Yea, I do. Thanks for um asking.”

 

Sarawat glimpsed at him from the corner of his eyes, “Good, because we’re here.” Every one of Tine’s nerves began to pulse as all relaxed feelings quickly disappeared. No, he wasn’t ready. Maybe he could just stay in the limo for the rest of the night. Sarawat was a confident man, so he could probably announce the engagement alone right?

 

Tine groaned and folded over so that his elbows rested on his thighs. He dug his palms into his eyes and tried his very best to control his breathing. “Shit, shit, shit.” He mumbled over and over. He could hear Sarawat sliding over next to him on the seat as the car came to a complete stop, “Shit!” Tine’s breaths became short and quick. He was spiralling and he knew it. His body shook until he felt some light warmth behind his shoulder. It was the light pressure of Sarawat’s hand moving in a slow small circle against the back of his jacket.

 

“Breathe.” The other man said in a stern low voice. Tine started counting backwards from one hundred and focused on the numbers until his breathing eventually slowed down. “Good.”

 

“Can’t we just tell our parents that we’re getting married in a letter or something?” Tine pleaded. “I can write it on a fancy sheet of paper with flowers on it.” He finally sat up and looked at Sarawat.

 

Sarawat studied his face and shook his head, “No. Let’s go.” He was about to open the door when a valid concern popped into Tine’s head.

 

 Tine anxiously placed his hand on Sarawat’s shoulder and pulled him. “Wat, wait!” Sarawat almost fell back against his seat at the sudden movement. “Sorry.” Tine apologized and immediately moved his hand away. He brought his hand to his chest and raised his eyebrows quickly then dropped them again, “Sarawat, I just realised that I’m a guy.”

 

“You just realised that?” Sarawat was genuinely dumbfounded by the sudden revelation.

 

Tine feeling flustered shook his head, “No, I mean. I just realised that you are going to go into that hall over there in front of your dad, his peers, reporters, whatever, and tell them that you are marrying a MAN!” When Sarawat’s face changed from confusion to indifference, Tine became even more distressed that the other man was misunderstanding him. “They’re going to think YOU’RE GAY!” He finally hammered in what he truly meant.

 

Sarawat shrugged, “Oh. But I am gay.” Tine’s eyes bugged out of his face. He could clearly see that Sarawat was amused by his expression. “My family knows.”

 

“You’re what? Since when?!” Tine gawked at Sarawat for what seemed like an eternity as his brain quietly short circuited. “I never knew that! How come you never told me?!”

 

With elevated eyebrows, Sarawat snorted, “Since forever.” He scrunched up his face, “And I only told the people closest to me.” His fingers scratched at his shoulder and then he smirked, “Are you and I close?”

 

Tine opened his mouth and then paused, “Okay no we’re not. But I don’t know. We’ve known each other for forever and I’m just surprised you never said anything.”

 

“Knowing someone doesn’t always mean knowing someone.” Sarawat said the last part of his sentence slowly to emphasize his point. Tine nodded and did his best to temper his surprise. “Is it a problem?”

 

Tine immediately shook his head, “Of course not! That wouldn’t bother me. I know a lot of gay people. Some of my clients are gay.” Sarawat held his gaze for a bit and then turned to look out the window. He turned back towards Tine, but offered minimal eye contact. Tine could tell that the other man was done with the conversation.

 

“Can we go now?” Sarawat impatiently inquired. Tine took a deep breath and held it. His lips were pursed and his brow furrowed. “Try to not make that face,” Sarawat suggested before he pushed the car door open and stepped out. Tine rolled his eyes and followed him out of the car. He immediately squeezed his eyes shut and slowly let out the breath that he had been holding. You can do this. He could barely open his eyes as flashes of lights hit them almost immediately after they got out. There were more photographers here than there had been at the house. Shit. Tine tried to cover his eyes with his arm and felt Sarawat join their hands together once again. The other man tugged him through the groups of people and straight into the venue despite the onslaught of yelling and questions that were directed towards them. Once they were inside, Tine bent over and placed his hands on his thighs.

 

He finally felt his stomach settle enough to speak “Is that going to happen every time we’re out together?”

 

Sarawat shook his head, “No. Maybe like eighty percent of the time. But there’s usually not that many of them.”

Tine sprung up in shock, “You’re shitting me!”

 

Sarawat shrugged, “If you know how to be sneaky, you’ll be fine.”

 

Tine placed his palms against his forehead, overwhelmed by the idea of the paparazzi, “I don’t know how to be sneaky Sarawat!”

 

Sarawat smirked and cocked his head to the side as if studying Tine, “That’s weird. I thought you said you were a lawyer.” With that jab Sarawat walked off into the main hall and left a fuming Tine behind him. What an asshole. Tine seethed as he slowly followed the other man. The noise of the party overwhelmed him before he even saw the hoards of people dressed up in the room. There had to have been at least a thousand people celebrating Sarawat’s dad’s birthday. His eyes searched the room for his parents, but he couldn’t see them anywhere. He wished that he had paid more attention to what they had been wearing earlier before they left. “Small party huh?” Sarawat sarcastically commented as he also surveyed the room for his parents. Tine glared at him and forced a fake laugh which Sarawat rewarded with a glance and a smirk.

 

As they stood there a beautiful woman carrying a tray of champagne flutes walked up to them with a smile. “Good evening,” Tine noticed that her voice was nice and soft. He immediately turned his charm on and beamed at her. “Would you care for a drink?” She asked politely. Tine reached out and took one of the glasses, as did Sarawat who was intensely watching the other man.

 

“Thanks” He tilted his head to the side and unsubtly checked her out. “I’m Tine and you are?” He brought the glass to his mouth and quickly drank every last drop of the champagne. If he was going to make it through this situation he would probably need quite a bit of liquor.

 

The woman blushed and giggled, “I’m Maew.”

 

Sarawat narrowed his eyes and took Tine’s hand into his own. “And I’m his fiancé. Thanks.” He pulled an annoyed Tine to the side of the room. The slightly taller man promptly pulled his hand out from Sarawat’s. With knitted brows, Sarawat stared at Tine who was standing in front of him. “What are you thinking?”

 

Tine stepped back from Sarawat and put his empty glass down on a nearby table. He folded his arms across his chest and rolled his eyes, “What? Am I not allowed to drink? I think I deserve to have a few drinks to get through the night.” He lifted his chin in defiance, exposing his neck to the other man.

 

Sarawat clenched his jaw hard enough that Tine could see the sides of his face flexing. He could tell that the other man was truly aggravated, “I’m here to help you out and you flirt right in front of me?” He stared at Tine in disbelief, “We’re supposed to be engaged Tine! Are you kidding me?!” His teeth were clenched and his eyes were wide. Tine’s mouth opened into an ‘o’ shape before he looked down clearly embarrassed by his actions. He hadn’t even realised. It just came naturally to him to flirt with a beautiful woman. Could someone really blame him for that? He was only human.

 

“Shit. Sorry.” He slowly looked up and offered the other a sheepish grin, “Wasn’t on purpose honestly. Kind of was just like a reflex. I’ve never been near a beautiful woman who didn’t flirt with me or vice versa.” He shrugged.

 

Sarawat’s eyes only narrowed even more at the explanation, “Listen to me.” The two looked at each other before Sarawat continued, “I personally don’t care if you do. But those vultures out there,” He pointed to a few photographers and reporters milling around the party, “Will eat that shit up and post it so fast that this fake marriage won’t even get to start.” Tine put his hands out and hunched his shoulders.

 

“I get it. I’m sorry.” He averted his eyes and fussed with the cuff of his jacket. Sarawat was right. He couldn’t be careless like that anymore. But how could he stop himself when it just came naturally to him in the first place? Fuck. What was he going to do especially now that he had upset the one person who was putting his neck out on the line for him. Sarawat was going to think that he was completely wasting his time. He sighed, bowed his head, and continued to gaze down at his toes, “Wat, honestly. I’m sorry.” After a moment or two, Sarawat reached out and placed his index finger under Tine’s chin, startling the man in the process. He pushed Tine’s chin up to face him.

 

“It’s fine. Just,” Sarawat glanced away, “Flirt with me if you need to.” He dropped his hand, quickly drank his champagne, and looked around as Tine continued to stare at him. Flirt with him? Tine had expected him to say not to flirt with anyone at all. Why did he want Tine to flirt with him?

 

“Uh.” Tine choked out.

 

“I’ll be back. Hold this.” He handed him the empty glass and disappeared into the crowd leaving Tine feeling very much confused. He looked at the glass in his hand and placed it on to the table beside his. His stomach loudly grumbled as he realised he hadn’t been able to eat his popcorn earlier. He was starving. His eyes scanned the room for any servers who had food platters with them. It took him a moment, but he watched a man carrying around appetizers across the room away from him. Saliva filled his mouth and he smacked his lips as he bee lined towards the man who was slowly getting away. He had been so focused on getting the food that he walked right into someone. Tine immediately bowed his head and brought his closed hands to his face.

 

“Excuse me. Sorry.” He said before looking up into the eyes of a shorter man who had dark bushy eyebrows, ears that slightly stuck out to the sides, and hair that was shorter on the sides and longer on the top. Tine offered an apologetic smile, “I was chasing the food guy and wasn’t paying attention.”

 

The other man looked Tine up and down and gave him a very wide smile, “No problem at all, Tine.”

 

Tine was slightly taken aback, his smile slowly slid off his face. Who was this guy? “Uh, do I know you?”

 

The shorter man shook his head, “No, but I know you.” He grinned and shoved his hands into his pants pockets. “I’ve seen photos of you before.” The hairs on Tine’s body stood up and the saliva that had been in his mouth dried right up.

 

“Mil!” Tine heard a familiar voice call out from behind him and turned his head to see Sarawat’s younger brother Phukong happily skipping over to them. He was also wearing a black Tux similar to his brothers, but he had a white collared shirt in the inside instead. “Tine!” He pulled the older man into an excited hug which Tine returned. He hadn’t seen the other man in so long. They slightly stepped back, but continued to hold each other’s arms. Sarawat’s brother’s eyes raked over Tine’s body, “You look good!” Phukong smiled brightly and nodded in approval at the outfit.

 

“I mean, I always look good.” Tine teased the other man and playfully spun around. He grinned, “You look so fancy.”

 

Phukong laughed, “Yea, because I am.” He draped his arm across Tine’s shoulders and turned him to face the man that had creeped Tine out a moment earlier, “I see you’ve met my wonderful boyfriend Mil.” Tine tried his best to control his expression, but he knew that his face had definitely scrunched up. This guy? Mr. Creepy eyebrows is your boyfriend Phukong? Yikes.

 

Mil raked his teeth over his bottom lip as he stared at Tine, “Yea babe, I was just telling him that I was your boyfriend.” He smirked, “I was playing around with him first though. He probably thought I was some stalker.” A laugh escaped his lips and Tine plastered on a fake smile.

 

Phukong shook his head and turned his face towards Tine, “Ignore him. He likes teasing people.” Tine did in fact plan on ignoring him even before Phukong had given him permission to. He didn’t know what it was exactly, but something about the other man didn’t sit well with him. He felt uneasy and had lost his appetite.  

 

“Ah. Yea, uh nice meeting you.” He stretched his hand out to shake Mil’s. Mil took Tine’s hand and shook it slowly. Tine pulled his hand away quickly when he felt Mil rub his index finger on the inside of his palm. What the fuck? He rubbed his hand against the side of his pants and slightly stepped back. Tine eyed Phukong to see if the younger man had noticed anything.

 

Phukong laughed and moved his arm from Tine’s shoulders. He walked over to his boyfriend and wrapped his arms around his waist. “Jeez you two are so formal. Loosen up.” He giggled into the side of Mil’s face before placing a light kiss there. It was only at that moment when Mil finally looked away from Tine’s face. He had been staring at him the entire time. Tine shivered and looked around for Sarawat. He wanted to get this over with and go home. They just needed to find their parents, pull them aside and tell them that they were engaged. “Huh, why’s he onstage?” Phukong questioned as he stared at something to the left of the room. Tine immediately turned and watched in horror as Sarawat walked across the stage towards the microphone stand. No. No fucking way. No.

 

Sarawat signalled for the music to turn down and then cleared his throat before he spoke. “Good evening. I just wanted to say a huge happy birthday to my dad.” He held up a new glass of champagne or maybe it was wine, Tine couldn’t tell. Everyone followed suit and raised their glasses as well. A chorus of happy birthday’s trickled sporadically through the room. Tine let out a huge sigh of relief. He had thought that Sarawat was going to publicly announce their engagement, but he was just giving a simple toast. He chuckled to himself. He was such an idiot for getting worked up. “My dad is a great man and Phukong and I are lucky to have you.” Tine smiled and playfully swatted Phukong’s arm.

 

Phukong beamed before letting go of his boyfriend’s waist and put his index and middle finger in his mouth, letting out a piercing whistle, “Love you dad!” Phukong shouted from his spot. The people around him smiled and looked at him before turning their attention back to Sarawat.

 

Sarawat gave a shy grin, “Yes we love you and we’re proud of you.” He turned his head and looked into the audience near the front of the stage. Tine couldn’t quite see, but he was pretty sure Sarawat’s dad must have been standing there. This was a nice moment to see. Tine wasn’t as upset about coming to the party now. Sarawat brought the glass to his lips and drank. Everyone mirrored him and sipped from theirs, “Before I leave the stage tonight. I wanted to give you your present.” Sarawat paused, “It’s something you’ve been bugging me about for years.” Tine watched as Sarawat’s eyes scanned the people in front of him, eventually landing on Tine. Tine’s mouth fell open as they stared at each other. No. Don’t you fucking dare.  Sarawat smirked, “Tine, come up here.” Panicked, Tine immediately shuffled to his left and hid behind a tall man who was standing there with his wife. The man tried to move from in front of Tine, but everywhere he moved Tine stayed glued to him until the man turned around and stared at him in annoyance.

 

“Sorry.” Tine whispered and nervously eyed the people who were now staring at him due to the commotion. Shit. Shit. “Uh,” Tine immediately clutched his right eye, “Damn my contact must have fallen out.” He quickly dropped to his hands and knees and moved his hand across the floor. He had to get out of here. His heart was about to beat its way out of his chest. He needed to buy some time. He needed a plan.

 

Sarawat fought the urge to roll his eyes as he watched the theatrics play out, “Phukong, can you help him.”

 

Phukong gave him thumbs up, “Sure brother!” Tine felt someone grab his shoulders and pull him up. Phukong spun Tine’s body around and placed his palms flat against his back.

 

He turned his head to look over his shoulder at Phukong and begged, “I’ll give you a hundred dollars if you help me get out of here.” He whispered through clenched teeth.

 

Phukong shook his head as he pushed a reluctant Tine towards the stage, “Nah, this is too interesting to pass up. And one hundred is definitely not enough to miss it.” Phukong groaned, “Stop dead weighting me Tine,” He huffed out.

 

Before he even had time to blink, Tine saw that he was at the steps of the stage. He watched as Sarawat came down to him and firmly took his hand in his own, threading their fingers together seamlessly. 

Sarawat leaned in and whispered, “Relax.” Tine audibly gulped as Sarawat pulled him up the steps and on to the stage. Cameras were flashing like crazy and there were clear murmurs coming from the audience.

 

“What’s happening?”

 

“Who is that?”

 

“Don’t know.”

 

“Never seen him before.”

 

“Isn’t that Pluem’s kid?”

 

“I thought his kid was already married.”

 

“No, I think that’s the older one. This one’s the lawyer.”

 

Tine hung his head and looked down at his feet. Was this really necessary? Did he need to be up there? He nervously squeezed Sarawat’s hand hard enough that he could feel the other man’s finger bones against his own. His trembling legs felt like jelly and he was almost sure he was going to throw up the three bits of popcorn he had managed to eat earlier. With his back hunched, he shifted his feet from side to side. How bad would it be if he ran off of the stage and off into the night? He probably wouldn’t be able to face his parents for a few months, but it might have been worth it if he could leave the stage. He groaned, no he couldn’t do that. He had to suck it up. His dad needed him.

 

His lips pressed into a tight white line as his body continued to vibrate. Tine had never been more scared in his entire life. Sarawat leaned into the microphone, “This is Tine.” Tine squeezed his eyes shut. Don’t say it. Don’t say it. “My fiancé.” Fucking hell he said it. The room was so silent that you could hear a pin drop. The only sound he could hear was his heart beating in his ears. Suddenly there was a roar of applause and loud cheering followed. Tine was sure he was going to faint. As if sensing the other man’s apparent distress, Sarawat released their clasped hands and wrapped his arm securely around Tine’s waist to hold him up and against him.

 

Relax. Pull yourself together man. Tine did his best to smile at the crowd in front of them and leaned forward, he was grateful that Sarawat was still holding him. He sighed, no matter what he was feeling, they both needed to sell this as best as they could. Tine cleared his throat and spoke into the microphone, “We really hope to make our parents proud with our union and we ask that everyone here please support us in our love. Thank you.” His voice had been shaky, but he had done it.. Tine peeked at Sarawat and found him staring back at him with a look of surprise. After a few seconds of staring at each other they turned to the audience, pressed their palms together and slightly bowed. Sarawat put his arm back around Tine’s waist.

 

The cameras went crazy and the reporters in the room were typing away into their phones about what they had just witnessed. “Thank you.” Sarawat finished, stepped back, and pretty much carried Tine off of the stage.

 

Tine leaned heavily against Sarawat’s side as he did his best to regain his composure, “What the actual hell Sarawat?!” He hissed.

 

“You could have smiled more.” Sarawat mumbled, his brows furrowed, “The pictures are going to be brutal.” Really? The pictures are your concern? Tine took in a deep breath and pushed himself to stand up on his own. He didn’t want any part of him touching Sarawat at the moment.

 

Tine whipped his head in the other man’s direction, “Is that all you have to say?! Why can’t you admit that I did a good job?!” he glared at him, “I was humiliated out there and you didn’t even give me a warning that you were going to even do that. Much less drag my ass on the stage with you!”

 

Sarawat rolled his eyes, “Oh. Would you have agreed if I did?”

 

Tine opened his mouth and didn’t say anything for a few seconds. Sarawat arched a brow and continued to stare at him, “Yes. Yes I would have.”

 

Sarawat gaped at him, “Yea right, you would have bolted right out of here.” Sarawat turned his face away from him and shook his head in disbelief. Okay, that could have been true, especially since he had thought about doing just that a moment ago. But Sarawat didn’t know any of that.

 

Tine frowned, “Whatever. Bottom line is you didn’t even give me a choice,” Sarawat turned his face to say something else, but then widened his eyes instead and desperately grabbed Tine’s hand. Tine tried to shake it off, “Ugh, what are you doing!?”

 

“Shut up.” Sarawat whispered harshly. “Dad!” He said with feigned enthusiasm as both his and Tine’s parents approached them. Tine and Sarawat stared quietly at their parents as the older adults studied them. Tine watched Phukong approach the adults from behind and wiggle his body into the space beside his parents. A huge smile was on his face. Luckily Mr. Creepy eyebrows hadn’t joined him.

 

Sarawat’s father clearly looked confused at what had transpired. His mouth was pursed and his forehead creased as he regarded the younger men. “Follow me,” He commanded before he turned on his heel and walked right out of the room. The rest of the group stared after him before they quickly followed behind. Tine and Sarawat stayed towards the rear.

 

When there was considerable distance between them and their parents, Tine leaned in to whisper into Sarawat’s ear, “Is this bad?”

 

The other man looked calm, but Tine could feel his hand trembling in his own, “Not sure.” He whispered back as they were ushered into a private room that was down the hall from the party. Phukong closed the door behind them. Tine and Sarawat faced their parents who were looking at them from various spots near the front of the room. The couple’s hands stayed clasped together as they displayed a unified front to their parents.

 

Sarawat’s father maintained eye contact with his son and then he looked over at Tine and then back at his son. His expression was unreadable. Tine swallowed and tried not to focus on how dry his mouth felt. Were they in trouble? Was his dad mad that Sarawat had publicly announced his sexuality? Had they ruined the party?

 

Noticing that no one was speaking, Sarawat’s mother moved towards her husband, “Nat?” She touched his hand. “Are you okay?”

 

His head tilted forward as his lips slowly curled up into a small smile, “I’m elated!” He finally exclaimed while beaming at the two younger men in front of him. He looked at his wife, “May, I’m shocked that our son is finally settling down. We’ve been waiting on this day for years and years and years!”

 

Sarawat’s mother smiled happily and looked at Tine and Sarawat, “Yes, I am also very shocked. I did not know that Sarawat and Tine were even dating. I am shocked. Did I say I was shocked before? I swear that I never heard of them even seeing each other every week at Sarawat’s condo.” His mother winked at the younger men. She was laying it on real thick. Tine’s eyebrows knitted together in confusion. What was happening?

 

Tine’s mother jumped in, “I know what a surprise huh that these two young men would have found each other again! This is a big surprise and I never knew anything about this, just like May said.” His mother nodded. “It is surprising that I now have only found out at this exact moment, like everyone else in this room that my son and your son love each other. I surely did not know that they’ve been in a romantic relationship for a year. That’s insane who would even suggest that.” Tine had to fight the urge to smack himself in the face. He suppressed the laugh that was fighting its way up his throat. The mom’s should have received an Oscar for their flawless acting. He glanced at Sarawat and saw him smirking at the performance. Tine could only assume that Sarawat had spoken to their mothers and told them to amp it up for the sake of giving their relationship credibility. Now their dad’s would think that they had been together for some time.

 

Sarawat’s father’s jaw dropped as he let out a long loud gasp, “You two knew the whole time that they were seeing each other and you didn’t say anything?!” He pointed accusingly at the two women. The mom’s smiled at each other and nodded almost in unison. Tine could tell that they were proud that their over the top performance had worked, “May, how could you not tell me? You let me go on and on about Sarawat not getting serious with someone and you knew he was in love the whole time?” Tine could feel Sarawat’s body tense up beside him. He could sense that Sarawat’s dad had really been persistent about him getting married.

 

Sarawat’s mom slightly lifted her shoulders up, “You know your son is private. I didn’t want him to know that I knew about him and Tine.” She smiled warmly at the pair.

 

Tine’s mother tilted her head forward, “Do you really think they could have kept this from us? We’re their mothers.” She glanced at May, “We also didn’t want to get our or your hopes up that they would get this far.” Sarawat’s father let out a boisterous laugh and approached the two men. Tine’s shoulders went up as his future father in law grabbed them both into a tight hug. The older man was way stronger than Tine had initially thought. He swore he heard one of his ribs crack.

 

“I’m so happy for you two. My son and his fiancé.” Sarawat’s father let them go from his grip and placed a hand on one of Sarawat’s shoulders and the other on Tine’s, “This is a union that I could only dream of. Your father knows how much I love your family,” He bared his gums at them and then turned his face towards Tine’s dad, “Isn’t that right Pluem?” Everyone turned their attention to the man who still hadn’t said anything since the engagement was announced.

 

Tine finally took notice of his dad and frowned as he saw tears streaming down the older man’s face. “Dad,” He said softly as he watched his father allow his tears to fall freely from his eyes. Without a word, his dad walked up to him and pulled him into a warm embrace.

 

He could feel his dad’s chest heaving against his, “I am so happy for you.” His father choked out as he held his son against him. Sarawat let go of Tine’s hand. Tine wrapped his arms around his father and buried his face into the crook of his neck. He wasn’t crying. He just didn’t want anyone to see how mortified he was. Here was his father who had given Tine anything he had ever asked for and he had made him cry with the news of a fake engagement. How could he be so dishonest in the face of the man who had raised him? His rational side argued that the fake marriage was for his dad, but he still couldn’t shake the heavy feeling in his stomach. “I want you to take care of each other and be the best versions of yourselves that you can be,” His dad mumbled into his son’s shoulder before breaking away from the hug with Tine. Tine gave his dad a shaky smile and bowed his head. His dad cracked a smile towards Sarawat.  “Sarawat, you’re a hardworking honest man. Take care of my son’s heart. He pretends he’s strong, but he’s sensitive like his old man.” Sarawat put his hands together and up to his face before bowing low to the older man.

 

Tine scanned the room at the sound of numerous sniffles and found the mother’s wiping their eyes with the sides of their hands. He was surprised that they were tearing up since they both knew that this wasn’t real. Well their relationship wasn’t real, but their dad’s emotions had been. Tine almost wished that he was getting married to someone for real so that he could truly bask in the love that was being given to them instead of feeling like a damned imposter.

 

Phukong came up behind Sarawat and Tine and grabbed their shoulders, “Alright enough with the crying here! This is happy news! My big bro is in love. I love to see it.” He chuckled and playfully shook them, “Welcome to the family other big bro.” He squeezed Tine’s shoulder.

 

Sarawat and Tine looked at each other for a few moments before Sarawat ultimately looked away and down at his hands. Tine bowed low to every person in the room except Sarawat, “Thank you for your support, we will make you guys proud.” He straightened up and forced a smile.

 

Sarawat bowed to the families as well, “Yea. Thank you.”

 

 Tine cleared his throat, “Can Wat and I have the room to ourselves for a second?”

 

Their parents looked at each other for a moment. Tine could tell that they still had a lot of questions to ask. Phukong playfully stuck his tongue out, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” He wiggled his brows and helped shepherd the parents out of the room despite their protests. Once he had gotten them all out he popped his head back in, “Only do over the clothes stuff in here, you never know if there are cameras.”

 

“Get out you weirdo.” Sarawat squinted one of his eyes at his brother before Phukong finally left. Sarawat silently walked over to a table and pressed his lower back against it, his palms resting on the wooden surface, and his head falling back. “Fuck.” He muttered towards the sky. Tine stood beside him and mirrored his position except his head was bent down as he stared at his shoes.

 

“Yea. That was brutal right?” Tine let out a long sigh, “I didn’t think my dad was going to cry. I can probably count on one hand the times I’ve seen him cry in front of me like that.”

 

Sarawat lowered his head and turned to watch Tine. Tine could feel his eyes on his face, but continued to look at his feet. “You feel bad.” Sarawat stated.

 

Tine lifted his head and turned his face to analyze the other man, “Yea, I really do. I feel like I’m a shit son for lying to him like that.” His eyes became moist, “Ugh fuck man! What are we doing?”

 

“Tine.” Sarawat said slowly. Tine watched him closely. He could feel the other man’s pinky lightly brush up against his own on the table. He glanced down at their hands and then back up, “Tine, you’re helping your dad. You’re not a shit son.” He shrugged and then quickly looked away, “We convinced them. So we’re good.” Tine lowered his eyes and gave him a small nod. Sarawat stood beside him for a few more seconds, “I’m going back. Take a sec to yourself and then come out.” Sarawat pushed off from the table and walked towards the door. Tine noticed him hesitate to open it and then turn his head as if he had something to say. He waited to see what was happening.  Sarawat shook his head, opened the door and left the room.

 

Tine felt extremely alone in all of this. He couldn’t complain to his mother because she’d feel like she made him do this and he couldn’t say anything to Sarawat because he would seem ungrateful for his help. Tine let out a pronounced sigh. He knew that they were successful in convincing their dad’s but no matter what he did he couldn’t shake the feeling of being a failure. This was hard. As he rubbed the back of his neck, he stood up properly and fixed his tie. He took in a deep breath before heading back into the party to face the figurative and literal music.

Chapter Text

Chapter Five: Practice Makes Perfect

 

Sarawat pulled up to the front of Tine’s house, put his car in park, and fumbled around in his pocket for his phone. It had been a few days since they had announced their engagement at his father’s birthday party. As expected, he and Tine were now the talk of the country. Usually he avoided the tabloids and didn’t care much for what they had to say about him or what unflattering picture they had snapped. But he had uncharacteristically been scouring the websites to see what information they had obtained on Tine thus far. Making sure that nothing problematic was discovered about the other man’s past was crucial. As an introvert, it had been easy for Sarawat to keep a low enough profile to thwart rumours or much scandal. If he did do anything somewhat reckless, he rarely if ever did it in Thailand. On the other hand, Tine was extroverted, he was more outgoing and had never had to be mindful of what he said or did in the public eye. Sarawat knew that was all going to have to change, the sooner the better. He also knew it was going to be a struggle for the young lawyer.

 

He hoped that once they divorced Tine would be able to be free from the public eye and scrutiny. Sarawat stared at his steering wheel as thoughts plagued his mind. Divorce? He didn’t even want to think of that yet, which annoyed him to no end. He knew that it was not in his best interest to get caught up in his feelings about the situation, but here he was already dreading the day that he and Tine would eventually separate. Where they would go back to being quasi strangers once again, pretending as if they didn’t really know each other.  When he had proposed the idea to his mom about marrying Tine, he had been almost one hundred percent sure that he was over the other man. He no longer thought about him every waking minute and only occasionally would let his mind wander to think about him. For fucks sake, they hadn’t even seen each other in almost five years. He had been sure that his heart would have closed up and moved on, it seemed to be the only logical thing to happen after so much time and distance. He had even gone on a few meet ups with international men who didn’t quite know who he was or who at the very least had never heard of the Guntithanon’s. So in his mind there was no way that he was going to relapse into the love sick puppy that he had once been. So what if he had been in love with the other man for over ten years? That was nothing. That meant nothing. He wasn’t going to fall into that trap again. Fuck that. He was definitely over Tine. He knew it. He was positively one hundred percent over that guy. He frowned and shook his head in the darkness of his car.

 

Sarawat had been so sure of his feelings. That was until their meeting in the parking lot the other night. How was he to know that the minute he set his eyes on the other man, that his heart would feel like it was about to explode? That his body would feel like it was on fire? That for the first time in four or five years his soul finally felt like it had been set free. Had he known, he would have never suggested the plan. How could he enter a fake marriage with a man that he was hopelessly in love with? The only person he had ever been in love with. Once he had gotten home that night he chided himself. He threatened his heart with obscenities, told himself over and over through the night that he needed to shut that love shit down and fast. This could never work if he was in love with Tine. Never. It was for the best to bury it down and ignore the pining feeling. To pretend that he didn’t feel the all familiar fluttering in his stomach. To ignore how good Tine looked in his work outfits and that gray suit. Sarawat sighed and tilted his head back against the car seat. Fuck, Tine had looked really sexy in that suit. Ugh, stop! He clenched his eyes and inwardly yelled at himself. He could do this. He was sure. He just needed to convince himself that he was definitely not in love with Tine anymore. That what he was experiencing were simply residual feelings from his past, not the present. Sarawat had decided to hone in on any small flaw the other man had and amplify it times one hundred. It’s a fool proof plan. Right?

 

His eyes scanned the time on his phone. Shit, it was already ten. He had been sitting there for over twenty minutes with his internal struggle.

 

Tapping in his code, he opened his phone and brought up his last message with Tine. He slowly tried his best to type out the message to the other man and then pressed send.

 

[Sarawat]

Com OUtskde

 

It didn’t take long before Tine replied.

 

[Tine]

What?! You need to learn how to use voice to text.

 

Sarawat raised a brow. Ah, that would probably make sense. He brought the speaker to his lips, “I’m outside. Come out.” He pressed send and wondered why he had never used the program before.

 

[Tine]

Fine

 

He glanced up at Tine’s window and watched as the light went out. His mind tried to remember one of the last memories he had with Tine in that room.

 

Sarawat followed behind his dad into the Teepakorn’s home. The new guitar his parents had bought him for his birthday was strapped to his back. He had just turned thirteen. Both he and his father offered the Wai greeting to Tine’s parents and then pulled off their shoes.

 

“Hello Sarawat,” Tine’s mother had greeted him. Gently placing her hand on the side of his head, “You’re getting so tall already. Just like your dad.” Sarawat slightly bowed his head.

 

“Thank you.” His eyes scanned the room and saw Type sitting on the couch reading a book. “Hey Type.” Sarawat called out. The older boy turned his head and grinned at Sarawat.

 

“Hey Wat! I heard you got a new guitar.” Type got up from the couch and walked up to him, “Can I see?” Sarawat nodded and pulled the instrument off of his back and unzipped the case. Type admired the guitar and slid his fingers over the smooth wood. “Wow, this is nice.”

 

“Thanks, I just tuned it this morning.” Sarawat beamed proudly before zipping up the guitar case, “By the way, my friend Man asked about you again.” Sarawat smirked as Type rolled his eyes. He never thought that his classmate would fall head over heels for Tine’s brother after seeing him just one time at Sarawat’s house.

 

Type shook his head and walked back over to the couch, “Tell him to stop calling the house and hanging up! We know it’s him and my parents aren’t too happy.” With that he stuck his nose back into his book signalling the end of the conversation. “That kid is obsessed with me.” Type muttered under his breath, but Sarawat heard it. Type wasn’t wrong. Man was definitely an aggressive thirteen year old. He was lovesick, but he was Sarawat’s best friend so he put up with it. “Tine’s upstairs by the way.”

 

Ah, speaking of lovesick, “Thanks.” Sarawat grabbed his guitar and carried it up the stairs to Tine’s room. The door was halfway open. He peered in and found the boy sitting on his bed with his eyes closed. Headphones were over his ears and a CD player sat in his lap. Sarawat grinned at the other kid as his eyes zoomed in on the large white cast on his right arm. What an idiot. The story that Tine told people was that he was goaded into climbing on to their roof by his brother, but Type rejected any and all responsibility for the broken arm. Sarawat’s eyes searched the room and spotted a rolled up sock on the floor. He tiptoed across the space, picked it up and flung it at Tine’s head.

“Shit!” Tine’s eyes flew open as he touched his head with his free hand. He narrowed his eyes and pulled the headphones off from his ears.

“Language!” His mother yelled from the bottom of the stairs.

 

Tine rolled his eyes, “Sorry mom.” He turned his attention on to Sarawat, “Thanks a lot Wat.”

Sarawat smirked, “Any time.” He plunked himself at the end of Tine’s bed and studied his face. He hadn’t seen him in awhile. The butterfly wings in his stomach began to flutter as they often did when he was near the other boy. He raised a brow and glanced at the CD player, “Which artist?” Tine’s face lit up before he moved towards Sarawat and put the headphones over the other boy’s ears. Sarawat became inwardly giddy at the close proximity as he helped the one armed Tine adjust the headphones on his head.

 

“Scrubb. Type just introduced me to them, but they’re honestly the best. Just listen.” He pressed play, the whirring of the CD inside the CD player sounding loudly. Sarawat closed his eyes as he listened intently to the music. They were pretty good. He bobbed his head as the beat coursed through his ears. His fingers slowly strumming along as he figured out what chords were being played. When the song was over he pulled the headphones off and handed them back to Tine. Tine eagerly studied his face for a reaction, but Sarawat maintained his mask of indifference, “Good right?”

 

Sarawat nodded, “Yea, not bad.”

 

Tine scoffed, “Not bad? They’re amazing. If you listen to their music when you’re happy then you’ll feel happier, Let’s say you had a girlfriend or something and you were in love, you’ll feel even more in love after you listen to their music.” He smiled widely, “I’m obsessed with them.”

 

Sarawat raised a brow and then rolled his eyes, “What do you know about love?”

 

Tine’s face grew excited and he pushed himself off of his bed with his one good hand. He closed his bedroom door and turned to Sarawat. Sarawat’s eyes grew wide with confusion. Tine never closed the door when they were alone in his room. Tine grinned and sat down beside Sarawat, their knees slightly touching, “I have a secret.” He licked his lips and leaned in towards Sarawat. Sarawat couldn’t help but to lean in too. “I have a girlfriend.” Tine whispered with a look of pride. “We’ve been together for two weeks.” There was a tight feeling in Sarawat’s chest as he slowly leaned away from Tine. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to laugh or cry. Tine sighed dreamily, “She’s so cute too and she already has boobs! I still don’t know how I got so lucky.” Tine slowly fell back against the mattress and stared up at the stippled ceiling, “I read in a magazine that if we can make it to one year then we’ll get married and have kids.” Sarawat glanced over at the boy and then looked away, “One year should be easy I think.” Tine continued to speak out loud, but his words slightly fell on deaf ears.

 

With slouched shoulders, Sarawat hung his head and focused on his feet. Tine had a girlfriend? But that wasn’t fair, Tine was his. Only his. His thoughts became clouded and his stomach clenched. “Oh.” His voice came out monotone. “Cool.” With some difficulty, Tine sat up and slapped him playfully on his shoulder.

 

“Don’t worry. You’ll get a hot girlfriend too. You’re rich so you can get any girl out there!” Tine encouraged him. “Hey, are you into someone right now?”

 

Yea. You, you dumbass. Sarawat shrugged, he had brought his guitar over to play a song that he had written for Tine. He hadn’t intended on telling him that it was made for him, but he just wanted him to hear it. That plan was now out the window.

 

“What?! Who is it? What’s she like?” Tine angled his body towards Sarawat and bounced gleefully in his seat. Sarawat shrugged again as he tried to control his trembling chin. “Is she pretty?” Sarawat shook his head. “Smart?” Sarawat rolled his eyes, apparently not. He shook his head again, “Cute?”

 

Sarawat narrowed his eyes, “No.”

 

Tine brought his finger to his chin and stroked it in thought, “What kind of person is she then? She must be weird.” Tine concluded.

 

“Yea, extremely weird.” Sarawat smirked and looked at Tine before glancing away. He spotted a marker on a table near the bed. A mischievous idea formulated in his head, “Let me sign your cast,” Sarawat suggested as he eyed the white plaster.

Tine scoffed and outright refused, “No, you’ll write a bad word on it or something. Plus I want my girlfriend to be the first one to sign it on Monday.” Sarawat playfully nudged Tine with his shoulder.

 

“Come on. I won’t curse.”

 

Tine let out a pronounced sigh and reluctantly nodded, “Fine. But write small.” Sarawat jumped up and grabbed the marker.

 

“Close your eyes.” Sarawat instructed as he carefully touched the cast.

 

“Hell no!” Tine jerked his arm back.

 

Sarawat raised a brow, “You scared?”

 

Tine stuck his chest out and lifted his chin, “Pft, no. Maybe you’re the one that’s scared.”

 

Sarawat rolled his eyes, “Then close them.” Tine stared at his white cast for a second before closing his eyes and turning his face away. Sarawat smiled and wrote in large letters that took up most of the front of the cast. When he was done, he closed the cap on the marker and stood up from the bed. He knew he would have to run once Tine saw what he had written. “There.”

 

Tine turned his face and looked at the writing. From his vantage point it was upside down so it took him a second to read. Sarawat inched towards the door and opened it as he saw the other boy’s face turn red, “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!” He yelled, “RESERVED BY SARAWAT?!” Tine grabbed the marker from the bed and threw it at the boy. Sarawat ducked and ran out from the room, “I know where you live!” Tine screamed before he jumped off of the bed and slammed the door shut.

 

Sarawat ran quickly down the stairs and plopped breathlessly beside Type who was now lying down on the couch. Type lifted his head to look at the younger boy, “Good visit?” He asked with an all knowing smile.

 

Sarawat grinned, “Yea, the best.”

 

Sarawat remembered that even though Tine had worn the cast for three months, he never crossed out the writing Sarawat had written on it. At the time it had given him false hope that maybe, deep down, Tine felt the same way about him. Sarawat let out a long deep sigh and tried to slow down his breaths. Tine was coming out to see him and he hated the fact that he was excited about it. “Come on, focus on the bad. Focus on the bad.” He reminded himself as his eyes slowly closed. A light rap on the passenger window shook him out of his thoughts as he unlocked the car to let Tine in. The other man held a manila envelope in his hand as he slid into the seat. Sarawat tried not to focus on how cute Tine’s messy hair looked or how enticing his bare legs appeared in his black shorts. He quickly averted his gaze and picked at a thread coming loose on his steering wheel.

 

“Hey,” Tine broke the silence. Sarawat glanced over at him and then refocused his attention on the thread once again. “What’s up? It’s late.”

 

Sarawat cocked his head to the side and slowly turned to look at Tine, “Yea. I finished work an hour ago. Only time I could come was now.” Alright now frown so that you look annoyed. He wrinkled his forehead and rolled his eyes.

 

Tine exaggeratingly rolled his eyes in return, “What do you want Sarawat?” Sarawat lowered his head and unlocked his phone once again. He opened one of the web pages he had been looking through earlier that day. Wordlessly, he handed the phone over to Tine to see. Tine slowly reached out and took the phone into his hand. He sucked in his lips and squinted one eye, “Ah shit.”

 

“Mhm. Pretty bad,” Sarawat shook his head and angled his body towards Tine. He leaned in so that his head was by Tine’s shoulder, that way he could also look at the phone. “Look at this one.” He opened another tab and could see Tine visibly shudder beside him.

 

“Fuck, we look so bad in these pictures! Why is my face twisted like that? I look like I’m smelling farts or something.” Tine scrolled through the page and winced, “Oh god, look at our hands. Why are we so far away from each other? Our hands are making like a horizontal line because we stood so far apart.” The pictures were indeed unflattering and the two did not look like a couple. It looked like Tine was being dragged along by Sarawat, which was kind of accurate. Tine turned his face to look at the man beside him. Sarawat could feel his breath against the side of his face from how close they were. He inhaled deeply, Tine smelled like mint or mouthwash. He must have been getting ready for bed. “They can’t all be this shit right? There has to be one good picture of us.”

 

Sarawat turned to look at Tine, their eyes momentarily locked on each other before he looked away and back at the phone. “No. They’re all like this.” He scowled, “Did you really have to make your face like that?” Sarawat reached out and took his phone back from Tine. “Your face looks like I reek.”

 

“Fuck, I’m sorry.” Tine groaned and buried his face in his hands, “I was nervous and I didn’t realise there would be so many damn cameras.” He mumbled into his palms. Sarawat pulled Tine’s hands down so that he could hear him clearer and see his face. Tine offered him a half hearted smile, “Least you look good in the pictures.” Sarawat arched an eyebrow, he hadn’t even focused on how he looked in the pictures. His attention had been all on Tine.

 

“You can’t keep making those faces when we touch.” He held his phone out and showed another picture to Tine. Tine’s eyes widened as he looked at a picture of himself standing alone. He looked calmer and less disgusted than he had in the other pictures, “Alone you’re good. With me is another story.”

 

Tine squinted, “That can’t be true.”

 

“Oh no?” Sarawat scrolled through the pictures again so Tine could see. He pointed at the different images, “Look. Look. Look at this one.” Tine turned his face away and stared straight ahead. “Tell me I’m wrong.”

 

Exasperated, Tine threw his hands up and hit the roof of the car. “Ouch,” He studied his hands and then tucked them into his armpits, “Okay fine. Yea, the pictures where you’re touching me or near me I look upset or unhappy. It’s not like I did it on purpose, I mean I was under a lot of stress.”

 

Sarawat rubbed his chin in thought, “Do you think I’m ugly?”

 

Tine let out a loud laugh at the question. Sarawat watched him in surprise, “Have you seen you?” Tine studied Sarawat’s face, “You have a whole hashtag out there called Team Sarawat’s wives and you think that I think you’re ugly.” Tine sighed, “No, I don’t think you’re ugly. I’m just,” He paused, “Out of practice.” He slowly finished and quickly turned his attention to his feet. Tine hadn’t explicitly said that he found Sarawat attractive, but Sarawat could read through the lines. His momentary happiness was replaced with confusion as it dawned on him what the other had just said.

 

“Out of practice?” Sarawat cocked his head to the side and scratched at the base of his neck, “With what? Holding hands? Taking pictures?”

 

Tine mumbled, “Yea all of it. I’m out of practice. I haven’t been on a date with a girl in god knows how long and I haven’t been holding anyone’s hand.” The confession was beyond surprising to Sarawat who had assumed that Tine had been busy in the dating scene. An idea popped into Sarawat’s head. An idea he wished would disappear, but it continued to push itself to the front of his brain.

 

“Okay.” Sarawat said slowly, a small shy smile on his face, “Then let’s practice.”

 

Tine whipped his head to look at Sarawat. “That’s not funny Sarawat.”

 

Sarawat shrugged, “I wasn’t kidding.” He pushed his phone back into his pocket and then nibbled on his bottom lip, “We need to look in love. You need practice. So let’s do it.” Sarawat really tried to convince himself that his feelings for Tine had not concocted this plan. In his mind they sincerely needed to practice or the tabloids were going to exploit their disconnection and use it as a weakness against them. Not only did their dad’s have to buy into their lie, the world had to believe it as well. This was purely for the sake of the plan. One hundred percent.

 

Tine turned his body so quickly that his back slammed up against the car door, “I’m not having sex with you pervert!” His eyebrows were raised and pulled together as his eyes bugged out of his head, “That’s taking it way too far.” Sarawat pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. Here was negative number one, the man was clearly an idiot.

 

“No one is trying to sleep with you alright? You just need to get used to touching me.” He squinted at Tine, “But, I’m not going to force you.” He watched as the other man swallowed a few times before closing his eyes. Never mind, he looks freaked out. Sarawat partially opened his mouth to retract his suggestion when Tine spoke out.

 

“Okay, let’s practice. It might be a good idea and then we won’t look so awkward together in pictures.” Tine nervously scratched the side of his face, “We’re adults right? This won’t be weird. Just two dudes touching. You know normal stuff.” Sarawat sat quietly in shock. He hadn’t expected Tine to agree. He didn’t want to say anything that would make the other man change his decision.

 

Without a moment’s hesitation, Sarawat changed the gearshift into reverse and backed up out of Tine’s driveway. Tine grabbed the dashboard and frantically turned his head to glare at him, “Hey, what are you doing?!” Tine quickly pulled at his seat belt and pushed the buckle in until it clicked.

 

“Heading home,” The other man said nonchalantly as he pulled on to the main road, “So we can practice.” Time was of the essence, they had not a minute to spare.

 

“I didn’t mean now! Shit, this is kidnapping you know!” Tine whined out as he clutched the manila envelope in his lap, “So you’ve broken into my room and now you’re committing another crime.”

 

Sarawat scrunched up his face, “Kidnapping? Is that what I’m doing? My bad.” He pulled over to the side of the road and came to a full stop before turning his attention on to Tine. He pressed on the hazard lights button, “I won’t hold you hostage. You can leave if you want.” He gestured to the passenger door.

 

Tine gawked at the other man, “You want me to walk back in the middle of the night? By myself on the road.”

 

“It’s warm out.” Sarawat said with a mischievous smirk, “Good breeze.”

 

“Ugh fuck you.” Tine narrowed his eyes, “Fine. I’ll walk. I LOVE walking! I’m the best speed walker in the whole country. Just watch me, I’ll walk home from the car and then back out here and then walk back home again!” He flung the envelope he had been holding on to Sarawat’s legs, “These are the contracts and prenuptial agreement, read them over and sign them before I have to see you again. Make sure that no one else has access to them. Asshole.” Much to Sarawat’s amusement, Tine struggled to unbuckle his seatbelt. He reached over to help, but Tine smacked his hand away, “I don’t need your help, you dickhead.” He muttered under his breath before pushing the passenger door open. As if by fate a crack of thunder was heard from above. Both Tine and Sarawat slowly looked at each other with wide eyes as the rain began coming down. Tine stared out the open door for a second or two before slamming it shut. Sarawat bit his bottom lip as he tried not to laugh out loud. Tine’s lips puckered, “I hate you.” He growled before pulling his seatbelt back on.

 

Sarawat snickered at the other’s pout. He couldn’t help but admit that it was cute, “I’ll take you home.”

 

Tine shook his head, “Whatever, let’s just get this over with. Take me to your place.” Sarawat watched him for a bit longer. He had only meant to tease the other man, but now he felt bad.

 

Sarawat licked his bottom lip and glanced away, “Nuisance, I was kidding. I can take you home.”

 

With a look of determination on his face Tine asked, “Sarawat, are we doing this or not?” Sarawat was shocked. Where had this side of Tine come from? They sat there at the side of the road in silence for two minutes or so before Sarawat decided to continue off towards his condo. He waited to see if Tine was going to say anything, but the other man stared off into the darkness. That couldn’t be a good sign. Shit, is he mad? The two maintained minimal eye contact while Sarawat drove off into the city. Fortunately for them the roads weren’t as busy that time of the night. “You’ll have to bring me home early tomorrow morning so I can get ready for work.” Tine finally stated, breaking the silence.

 

“Sure.” Sarawat swallowed and glanced quickly over at Tine, “I can take you home now. It’s still early.” He could see Tine slightly shake his head. “I was honestly just bothering you.”

 

“It’s fine, I wanted to see where you lived anyway since I’m going to probably live there too I guess.” That was right, Sarawat had momentarily forgotten about that for a minute. “Your condo can have pets right?”

 

“Oh yea. We’re good.” He drove around the back of his building and pulled into his assigned parking spot.  “Here.” Sarawat turned off the ignition and the pair sat still, listening to each other’s breathing. “We don’t have to practice. We can watch a show. Have a beer.” Sarawat watched Tine from the corner of his eyes. His heart was thumping ridiculously loud in his chest. He was nervous. Why did he even suggest this? What good was going to come of Tine touching him, holding his hand, or worse yet touching his body? He could barely handle sitting beside Tine without feeling like his body was tingling. Fuck. No he was not in love with Tine anymore. No. He couldn’t be.

 

“You have beer? Dude why are we still sitting here then?!” Tine smiled and pushed open the car door before stepping out and closing it.

 

 Sarawat took a deep breath, removed his keys, and shoved the documents in his glove compartment. He’d grab them later. His hand deftly grabbed his mouth mask from the cup holder and placed it on his face. He made a note to himself to give one to Tine once they were upstairs. He stepped out of the car and pressed a button on his fob twice to lock it and alarm it. With a groan, Tine stretched out his body, catching Sarawat’s eye. Flashes of bright skin were exposed as he reached up to the sky. He could see the firmness of his stomach and wondered what Tine looked like without his shirt on. Fuck! It took everything for Sarawat to look away. Damn it Tine! How could he focus on the bad things about the other man when his body looked like that? He briskly walked off towards the back door and could hear Tine’s flip flops clopping behind him.

 

Tine ran up beside him, “Why are we going in the through the back way?”

 

Sarawat turned towards him, “Less attention.”

 

“Oh.” Was all Tine said until they got to Sarawat’s condo door. “Number five twenty, I’ll try to remember that.” He mumbled to himself as Sarawat opened the door and let himself in, switching on the light.

 

“SHIT!” Tine exclaimed and covered his mouth. Sarawat turned to look at him and watched as Tine’s eyes frantically analysed the darkened room.

 

“What?” Sarawat looked around his condo to see if something was wrong.

 

Tine slowly stepped inside, but didn’t remove his hand from his mouth as his eyes continued to roam around. Finally he lowered his hand and Sarawat could hear and see his gulp. “Why is everything in here BLACK?! I thought I was in a haunted house or something.” Tine wrapped his arms around himself and visibly shivered as he continued to eye the place. “Even the walls are black,” He whispered to himself.

 

Sarawat frowned. He was very proud of his home. “It’s my favourite colour.” He bluntly stated as he headed off into his kitchen. Tine quickly followed after him, “You don’t like it?”

 

“Uh,” Tine paused and looked around, “I mean, maybe it would be more homey if you had some paintings up on the walls, or like more lamps, maybe a cushion or three on the couch,” He drifted off in thought as he looked around the room, “Maybe like a nice rug. Use a lighter paint colour, like gray.” Sarawat watched him intently, “But it’s a really big space and your kitchen is actually really nice.” He finished and glanced at Sarawat as the other man handed him a beer from the fridge.

 

“Uh huh.” Sarawat smirked and twisted off the top, “After we get married I’ll give you my credit card.” He brought the bottle to his lips, “Buy whatever decorations you want.” He took a swig of the cold bitter brew and smacked his lips. “I don’t mind gray walls.” Personally, he never thought about changing up his place. All he had wanted was black, but now he just wanted Tine to be excited with the idea of living there.

 

Tine’s jaw dropped as he held his beer mid air, “Wait a minute, are you being serious or just messing with me?”

 

“Why would I mess around about that? You’ll live here too. I want you to be comfortable.” Sarawat shrugged and walked off towards his living room and dropped heavily on to his couch. It had been a long day at work for him, but he had wanted to see Tine so he had run home, changed and then headed out to see him. Bringing him back, however, had not been part of the initial plan. But he was not going to complain about having the other man there with him. It was nice. He rarely allowed people to come there at all.

 

Tine moved the guitar from the seat cushion and gently placed it on the floor. He sat down on the other side of the couch and glanced at him, “Okay. Well I’ll find good bargain deals and I’ll only buy a few things since me living here will only be temporary.” Sarawat winced at the thought and then quickly pushed down the sad feeling. Tine put his beer bottle down on the coffee table and turned his body to face Sarawat. He pulled his legs up and sat crisscrossed. “You ready?” Sarawat’s eyebrows raised. Oh shit, we’re actually doing this. He could feel his cheeks start to warm up. Okay fuck, relax. It’s happening, this is not a drill.

 

Sarawat put his beer down as well and mirrored Tine’s body. He put his elbow against his thigh and leaned his head on the thumb and fingers of his left hand. “Yep. Where do you want to touch me?” He did his best to sound calm, but he could hear the shakiness behind his words.

 

Tine frowned, “Why do I have to touch you. Why don’t you touch me?”

 

Sarawat forced himself to roll his eyes even though the idea of Tine touching him was doing some things to his body, “Because I don’t have a problem touching people. I’m not out of practice. You are.” Well it was that and the fact that Sarawat didn’t want to lose his damn mind by touching or caressing Tine.

 

A huff escaped Tine’s lips, but he didn’t protest. “Fine. Whatever, I have no problem doing this. I bet this will be our only practice because I’m going to touch you really well.”

 

“Okay. Then do it.” Sarawat studied the other man and watched him reach out in an excruciatingly slow way. Tine scrunched up his mouth and wrinkled his forehead as he concentrated on his task. The man didn’t even blink as his hand moved across the space between them. Sarawat squinted in disapproval, “Why are you so slow?”

 

Tine narrowed his eyes, “I’m trying to figure out what part of you I want to touch okay and you’re making me nervous with all the faces you keep making. It’s not helping.” Tine leaned back and sighed, “Maybe I can just close my eyes and do it.”

 

Sarawat shook his head, “Hold on.” He went to his bedroom closet and returned with a black scarf. He handed it over to Tine before he adjusted his t-shirt and sat back down, “Blindfold yourself.” Tine stared at the item in his hands and then looked back up at Sarawat. “You won’t see my expressions.”

 

Swallowing hard, Tine wrapped the scarf around his head and tied it at the back into a firm knot. Sarawat had to glance away so that he could catch his breath. He couldn’t count how many times he had fantasized about Tine being blindfolded like this when they were teenagers, but in the fantasies they had been wearing a bit less clothing, “Okay, round two.” Sarawat moved closer to Tine so that their knees were touching. He watched as Tine’s tongue darted out between his lips as he concentrated again. Sarawat willed himself to calm down as Tine’s open palms finally made their way to his shoulders. Tine slowly slid his hands down to Sarawat’s defined chest and splayed out his fingers so that he could cover more surface. He hoped that Tine couldn’t feel how fast his heart was beating. Sarawat bit down hard on his bottom lip as the hands lightly moved down to his abdomen, “Jeez, how often do you work out? Every four minutes?” Tine joked but Sarawat could hear that his voice was shaky. Is he nervous? “Told you I was a pro at this,” Tine boasted in a low husky voice as his hands continued to the top of Sarawat’s thighs. Fuck me. Sarawat squeezed his eyes shut and grabbed Tine’s hands off of his legs. He was going to combust if the other man continued to touch him. Was Tine teasing him? He held Tine’s hands palm up and trailed his thumb along the faint lines on the smooth skin.

 

Sarawat took in a few deep breaths before he was finally able to speak, “We should practice holding hands,” He watched as Tine nodded in agreement. Sarawat placed his palms down on top of Tine’s upturned ones and slid them back and forth.

 

“Your hands are rough.” Tine commented flippantly. “Maybe you need a better moisturizer.” He smiled and Sarawat scoffed. Tine adjusted their hands vertically so that he could bend his fingers between Sarawat’s.

 

“They’re called working hands. Whereas yours feels like a baby’s ass.” Sarawat grinned as the corners of Tine’s lips turned down into a scowl, “What? No response?”

 

“Shut up.” Tine muttered, “Annoying.” He pulled his hands away from Sarawat’s and plopped them down heavy on top of Sarawat’s head.

 

“Ow!” Sarawat exclaimed, “What the hell.”

 

Tine snorted and his face broke out into a huge smile, “My bad. I can’t see remember?” Sarawat narrowed his eyes. How convenient. Tine playfully pat Sarawat’s hair before he slid his fingers down over his eyebrows and then poked Sarawat in the eye. Sarawat yelped in pain and rubbed his eye.

 

“Tine! I swear if you hurt me again,” He paused and watched Tine fail to hide his giggles, “Just watch.”

Tine continued to trail the pads of his finger tips around Sarawat’s smooth face, “I don’t know how that happened. Sorry.” He shrugged, but Sarawat could see the smirk on the other man’s face. Oh, we’re playing dirty? Okay, let’s play. Tine began massaging Sarawat’s cheeks in small circles. What is happening? He squinted one eye at the other man and screeched when Tine’s fingers gathered to pinch Sarawat’s cheeks very hard. “That’s it!” He knew Tine’s weakness very well from when they were kids and he now planned to use it. Sarawat reached out and mercilessly tickled Tine’s sides.

 

Tine roared with laughter as he struggled to get out of Sarawat’s clutches. He gasped for air as he wiggled around, “I’m, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” He cried out between fits of laughter as he flailed.

 

“Sorry I can’t hear you.” Sarawat teased. From all the moving and not being able to see, Tine had pushed himself dangerously close to the edge of the couch. Sarawat ceased the torture as he watched in horror as Tine teetered off of the couch and hit the ground with a loud thud. “Shit!” He immediately scrambled to the floor and hovered over Tine who was silently laying there sprawled out. “Are you okay?” Tine slowly pulled the scarf off of his face and blinked rapidly as his eyes adjusted to the light.

 

“Am I dead?” He asked as a slow smile grew on his face, he laughed, “That was fucking terrifying.”

 

Sarawat grinned back, “Yea, but it was hilarious to see you topple over.” His eyes searched Tines, “I’ve never seen anyone fall so slowly before.” Tine guffawed and rolled his eyes before looking up at Sarawat who was still hovering over him.

 

“Shut up asshole.” He said softly.

 

“Make me nuisance.” Sarawat retorted as he stared down at him. They watched each other closely. Neither of them moving from their positions on the floor. Tine’s eyes scanned Sarawat’s face and then hyper focused on his lips. Sarawat’s breath hitched as he watched Tine. Don’t do it! Don’t you dare. His brain argued with him as he slowly lowered his head towards Tine’s face.

 

Tine’s eyes flickered up and quickly became bewildered. Sarawat watched as Tine turned his head away in the direction of the table, “Woah! What are you doing?”

 

Sarawat scrambled up off of the floor and adjusted his clothes, “I was trying to see if you were concussed.” He lied through his teeth and stretched his hand out for Tine to take. Tine hesitantly regarded it but then let himself be helped up.

 

“Oh. Wow, I thought you were trying to kiss me or something.” Tine nervously chuckled and averted his gaze. Sarawat blanched. How embarrassing. “I think I’m going to head to the guest room. Is it that one?” He pointed to the door beside Sarawat’s bedroom.

 

Sarawat thrust his chin out, “Who would want to kiss you?” You, you moron! He looked in the direction Tine had pointed in, “Uh, yea.” He rubbed the back of his neck. You’re an idiot. What were you thinking? His chest felt tight and his face was hot, “Bed is already made up. And yea, the bed sheets are black.” He informed him.

 

Tine smiled, “Of course they are.”

 

“There’s an extra toothbrush under the sink too.” Sarawat grabbed the beer bottles from the table and headed to the kitchen to put them away.

 

“Oh for the guys who come over for some play time?” Tine smirked as he folded up the scarf and placed it on the couch.

 

Sarawat rolled his eyes, “For my friends who get wasted and fall asleep here.” He corrected and folded his arms across his chest, leaning against the counter.

 

Tine gave him a boyish grin, “Ah, I see.” They gazed at each other for a bit before Sarawat looked up and forced a yawn.

 

“Bed time for me. See you in the morning.” He pushed off of the counter and headed towards his room. Before he entered he paused in the door way and turned his head to look at Tine, “What time do you need to get home.”

 

Tine nibbled on his bottom lip as he thought, “Can I shower here?”

 

Sarawat tilted his head forward, “Of course.”

 

“Cool, let’s say six then.” Tine started moving towards the guest room.

 

“Sounds good.” He looked at Tine for a bit longer and took in a deep breath, “Night.”

 

Tine smiled over at him from the guest room, “See you.”

 

Sarawat watched him go into the room and quietly close the door. He placed his hand over his rapidly beating heart and frowned at the fluttering in his stomach.  He placed his back against his bedroom’s doorframe and slowly tilted his head back until it was against the cold wood. His eyes fluttered closed as he let out the breath that he was holding. How was he going to navigate this? What was he going to do? Shit. He and his heart were in big trouble.

Chapter Text

Chapter Six: Trust Me, I Got This

 

Tine sat in the parking lot of Al CoHol, one of the many bars that he and his friends had frequented during their university years. A smile tugged on his lips as he thought back to his time in school with his friends. At the beginning, nothing had mattered, classes had been skipped, and for the first few years that he was there he hadn’t had to work. His parents had given him money at the beginning, but when things started getting tight, Tine stepped up and got a job working at a cafe and also waiting tables. That was probably the moment when his friendships with his best friends became a bit strained. He loved the goofballs, but they never understood why he became a bit more withdrawn or why he was focused on his academics halfway through his university experience. Tine had to grow up, he couldn’t rely on his parents taking care of him anymore, he had to hunker down and focus on his studies. He couldn’t risk graduating with poor grades and he couldn’t take the chance that he wasn’t going to pass his Bar Exams. His friends had expressed that they understood why he couldn’t see them as much, or why he had to go home early to study, but it was difficult to miss the obvious disappoint in their eyes no matter what words came out of their mouth. Since he had gotten his job at the firm as an estate lawyer, his relationship with them had been much better. He was busy as ever, but he had made it a habit to at least see his friends once a week when they could all get out. Yet since the whole situation with his dad’s business, he knew he had sorely neglected his obligations to his friends. Worse than that, his friends had found out that he was engaged to Sarawat through social media, instead of hearing it from him directly. To say that they were pissed off would be an understatement. Tine hadn’t even thought of the implications of going public with the announcement. It hadn’t even crossed his mind about how his friends would feel. It was just another thing to happen in his life that further cemented his belief that he was now a shitty person.

 

He unbuckled his seatbelt and stared at the various groups of people entering the bar, both young and old. His friends were already inside waiting for him, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to get out of the car. Sarawat’s car. Having felt alone and in need of someone to talk to, Tine had reluctantly rambled on about his friendship troubles to Sarawat as he had driven him home the morning after their practice touching. Sarawat, in his Sarawat way, had unemotionally suggested that Tine should meet up with his friends in a place where they would all feel comfortable. He even offered Tine his car to drive the friends home in the event that they all, except for Tine, got wasted. The only other person Sarawat ever loaned his car too was his younger brother, so Tine had felt the pressure to make sure that nothing happened to the car. The more serious man had also gravely expressed the importance of Tine laying low. He warned him that now that people knew who he was, that he needed to be cautious about what he said and did. Tine assured him that he had nothing to worry about and to trust him. He was a responsible adult, not the kid that Sarawat once knew and he intended to prove that to him.

 

At the time, the idea of getting his friends together seemed foolproof, but now here he was attempting calming breaths and giving himself a pep talk. They won’t hate you. They’re your best friends. You’ve been best friends with Fong since high school and Ohm and Phuak since orientation. They won’t abandon you after almost nine years of friendship. No matter what. He swallowed back the lump in his throat and scratched the side of his head. Shit, but this was big. Really big. His phone began to vibrate in his pocket. He pulled it out and saw that Fong was calling him. Sighing, he stuffed the phone back in his pocket, grabbed a bag from the passenger seat, and exited the car.

 

How mad could they really be? He stepped into the bar and made his way through the groups of people before spotting the three men sitting at a table with a pitcher of booze in front of them. Slowly, he made his way to them and sat down. The three friends stopped talking mid-conversation and silently stared at him. He gulped and smiled sheepishly at them. “Hey you guys.” They continued to watch him in silence, occasionally bringing their glass to their lips and drinking from it. He exhaled slowly, “I, um, I know you’re probably still really mad at me and I don’t blame you guys. I really didn’t know how to even tell you what was going on and then on top of that the engagement kind of happened quickly,” He cleared his throat and looked down at his hands, “I’m a shitty friend and I’m not trying to make excuses so I’ll just finish this up and say that I am so fucking sorry. And I’ll try to keep you guys in the loop more, I promise.” He fidgeted in his seat, “Plus I’ll buy all the booze you guys can drink and all the food you eat will be on me. If you guys want to see a movie I’ll pay for that too. Whatever you guys want, I’ll take care of it.” He didn’t have a lot of money, but tonight it didn’t matter. He would make it back somehow. Not hearing anything from the other men, his eyes slowly glanced up to find them smirking and smiling at him.

 

Fong shook his head, “We were mad, but we’re cool now.” He shrugged, “We trust you and know that you must not have said anything for a really big reason.” The other two nodded in agreement, “You’re an idiot, but you’re our brother right?”

 

Tine’s lips began to quiver, “Right.” He choked out as he studied his friends. “I’m honestly really sorry that I didn’t tell you guys anything.” He knew that he still wasn’t telling them a lot of the big details, but he would have if he could.

 

Ohm laughed, “Yea man, but what I want to know is why weren’t we invited to that fancy party with your in-laws?! You know that I’m always looking to get away from my wife. Always!”

 

Phuak rolled his eyes, “Why don’t you just divorce her if you don’t like being around her?”

 

Ohm scoffed, “Because I love her you asshole,” He muttered under his breath before taking another sip of his beer, “What a stupid suggestion.” Ohm’s relationship truly made his friends terrified of marriage. The man complained about his wife constantly and they fought all the time, but no matter what, they always stuck together. Tine inwardly cringed, he hoped that when he got married for real, that Ohm’s marriage was an exception, not the rule. The three continued to stare at him in disbelief. Ohm frowned, “Look, it’s just how we operate okay? I talk bad about her and she talks about me, we fight and then we have mind blowing sex. It’s all very normal.”

 

Fong snorted, “You two need therapy. A lot of it!” He poured more beer into his glass and turned his attention back to Tine. “Speaking of weird as hell relationships. How the fuck did you and Sarawat get together, I thought you hated that guy.” Tine was in the midst of pouring his own drink, but slightly spilled some of it on the table as he heard the question, “I remember you telling me back in high school that he was a rich dick and now you’re putting that rich dick in god knows where.” The group erupted in loud laughter following the comment. Tine rolled his eyes and mopped up the spilled beer with his napkin.

 

“I don’t know, he just uh came by the house one day with his dad and he looked really attractive looking and um we exchanged Line’s and yea then we just you know reconnected and got together.” He ineloquently rambled on as his stomach clenched. Lying was a challenge especially to his friends and especially because he and Sarawat hadn’t confirmed a lot of details about why they had gotten together. They both had just winged it when their families inquired, “And he’s like really interesting, I mean he’s a bit moody, but aren’t we all.” He coughed into his fist and immediately started drinking from his glass as he avoided the bewildered expressions on his friend’s faces.

The three men looked at each other and then back at Tine, Phuak wiggled his eyebrows, “That’s code for he’s a grump with a huge penis.” Beer came out Tine’s nose at the comment and was followed by loud coughing. Phuak leaned over and smacked him on the back, “That’s okay bud, you don’t have to say it. We’ve all heard the rumours from that Sarawat’s wives hashtag. We know your husband to be is rich and has a huge dick. Say no more.” Tine waved his hand in the air as he tried to catch his breath.

 

“What?! Ugh, please don’t talk about his,” He paused and swallowed, trying his best not to think of the image of Sarawat’s bottom half, “Stuff.”

 

Fong cackled, “When did Mr. Chic become so modest about sex talk. We used to talk about girls boob sizes and what they looked like, smelled like, and now you can’t even brag about Sarawat’s dick? Who are you and what’s happened to my best friend?” He cocked his head to the side, “Is the sex at least good?” Tine groaned and slumped down into his chair with his eyes squeezed shut. He wanted to disappear more than anything in this moment.

 

“For the love of all that is holy, please stop talking about it.” He mumbled.

 

Ohm shook his head, “Nope, you didn’t tell us shit before. We demand some details on his penis right this moment. Is it big? Is it small? Is it two feet tall? Does it swing low? Does it wobble to and fro? Can he tie it in a knot? Can he tie it in a bow? Can he throw it over his shoulder?” Tine pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed, they weren’t going to stop until he gave them something. Fuck it, give the people what they want. If they wanted a big dick, oh he’d give them a big dick!

 

Weakly he whispered as he opened his eyes, “Yes.”

 

The trio leaned in to hear him better, “What?” They asked almost in unison.

 

Tine frowned and mumbled it again a bit louder this time, “Yes.”

 

“What?! Speak up its loud in here.” Fong giggled and glanced at the other two, “What’d you say?”

 

“YES HE HAS A BIG DICK!” Tine roared out as the music in the bar changed from one song to the next allowing there to a brief moment of silence. More than a few patrons turned to look in Tine’s direction. Absolutely mortified, Tine hid his face in his hands as his friends fell over each other laughing at the declaration.

 

“Well good for you!” Phuak said between gasps for air.

 

Tine shook his head against his palms, “I hate you guys.” They pat him on the back.

 

“We love you too. Don’t worry, we’ll keep it our little secret.” Tine lifted his head up and chugged the entire glass of beer that he had. Sorry Sarawat, being sober tonight seems out of the question, he mused to himself as he poured another glass of beer. After Ohm stopped laughing he pointed to a bag beside Tine.

 

“Hey, what’s that?”

 

Tine glanced over as he sipped his new glass of beer, “Oh, yea!” He put the glass down and lifted the bag on the table. Inside were small gift bags which he handed out to his friends. Their expressions ranged from curiosity to confusion, “Open them.” The trio quickly tore into the bags and each pulled out a small bottle of rum, a cigar, sunglasses, and a silver flask that said groomsman on it. 

“Fuck yeah!” Fong smiled ear to ear and nodded eagerly as he pushed sunglasses on to his face, “Of course man, you didn’t even have to ask, you know I was going to be your groomsman no matter what.”

Phuak agreed as he rolled the cigar between his fingers, “Yea, we were crashing that wedding regardless if we were invited,” He laughed and then donned a serious expression, “There’s going to be a lot of women there right?” Ohm rolled his eyes and gave his friend an incredulous look.

“Asshole you have a girlfriend,” he chastised him.

Phuak shrugged, “I mean technically yes, but we’re more than likely going to break up before the wedding. Wait, when exactly is the wedding?”

Tine raised a brow at the breaking up comment, “Two weeks.”

“Shit, that’s soon.” Phuak rubbed his chin in thought, “Yea, I can be single by then. Should be able to work out something.”

Ohm shook his head, “You’re a very bad man my friend.” Phuak scoffed and then laughed.

“Hey, I’m not just going to settle down for just anyone and live in a loveless marriage. Well at least not until my thirties.”

Fong gave them a dimpled smile, his eyes scrunching up in the corners. “If the wedding is in two weeks, then we’re going to have to do you bachelor party tonight.” Fong downed his glass as he looked at the others, “Oh we’re going to go crazy friends. Ohm call your wife and tell her you’ll be late and Phuak call your girlfriend too.”

Phuak gave a sly smile, “No need, it will speed up the breaking up process if I just don’t show up.” Tine’s brows knitted together at his friend. Phuak snickered at Tine’s expression, “We’ve only been together a month it’s not serious.”

Tine raised a brow and then looked at his friends, “What are we going to do? Play billiards? Catch a movie?” He inquired, but was mostly trying to throw out safe activity options. His friends looked at him as if he was stupid and then they laughed obnoxiously. 

“Billiards?” Ohm cackled, “Did he really say billiards? For a bachelor party?!”

Fong wiped the tear from his eye as he finally stopped laughing, “Oh no, we’re going to do something much more fun than that to send you off into your marriage.” An evil smirk played up on his lips. “You might not want to tell your fiancé.” He looked at the other two, who shared the same devilish smirks.

The hairs on Tine’s arms stood up, “Uh, I really have to lay low guys. Sarawat said that I can’t draw attention to myself.”

Phuak made a face, “Is Sarawat going to control your life now? No, you’re your own man and you make your own damn decisions!”

Tine swallowed. Phuak was right, he didn’t want to let his fake fiancé have all the control, but this wasn’t about Sarawat, this was about the agreement. Right? Tine took another drink from his beer before he spoke, “See, I hear you, but I still feel like we should do something quiet.”

Ohm slammed his hands down on the table causing Tine to jump in his seat, “Listen pal, you owe us! You didn’t tell us you were in a relationship with rich dick, you didn’t tell us you were engaged, and you didn’t invite us to the fancy party.” Ohm pointed his finger menacingly in Tine’s face. “Now pay the tab and we’ll grab a cab.” The serious expression on his face broke and he straightened up to look at his friends, “Hey, that rhymed.” Tine nervously bit on his lip, but got up to pay for the pitcher of beer and the other drinks the men had before he got there. He turned to look and them and saw that they were getting ready to go. Tine watched as they all put their sunglasses on and took selfies with Fong’s phone. His forehead puckered and he anxiously rubbed on his eyebrow. He had an idea of what was planned and he was beyond anxious about it. Ugh, please don’t let Sarawat find out. He then rolled his eyes. Whatever, let Sarawat find out. He puffed out his chest. He was still his own man and he wanted to have fun with his friends. It would be fun. He had it all under control. What was the worst that could happen?


Yea, this was a very bad idea. Tine glanced at the naked dancers moving slowly in front of him onstage as he sipped, no chugged, down his beer. Beside him his friends hooped and hollered at the women, throwing dollar bills at their feet and shouted out words of encouragement to them. His gaze followed Ohm and Phuak as they ran excitedly right up to the edge of the stage, money clasped tightly in their hands, and their sunglasses tucked into their hair. The money they were holding was Tine’s and he truly hoped that they didn’t ask for anymore.

 

He had already guessed that the strip club was more than likely where they were going to end up, it was the cliché activity for a bachelor party, but he was not the cliché bachelor. He was about to marry a man who’s family name held substantial weight. They had quite the reputation to uphold, meaning that he would now have quite a reputation to uphold too. Tine scoffed in his empty glass. Of course he would only marry this kind of person in a fake relationship. His whole life he had anticipated marrying a younger woman who probably came from a similar background as he had, but never in his wildest dreams would he have imagined getting married to...

 

“Sarawat Guntithanon!” Tine turned his head to look at the exotic dancer who was walking up to him with no top on. He swallowed and glanced away, “You’re the guy he’s marrying right?”

 

“Uh,” Tine started.

 

“Yea! That’s our friend! He’s going to marry the one and only Sarawat!” Fong, who was absolutely smashed beside him, chimed in happily at the attractive woman. He stood up and leaned in to whisper to her, “Don’t tell anyone, but his dick is huge.” Fucking hell! Tine pulled the man down beside him and placed his hand over his mouth. He was wasted too, but he wasn’t that far gone yet to talk openly about his fiancés fake large appendage. The woman’s eyes widened and she looked at Tine. Her eyes studying him intensely. Fuck.

 

“Don’t listen to him, he’s really drunk. Really really drunk.” He turned his face and glared at his best friend. “What the fuck man?” He whispered harshly. The woman came and plopped herself gracefully down on Tine’s lap. Tine’s body stiffened up at the unwanted contact. He quickly glanced around to make sure that no one else was witnessing this.

 

She continued to stare into his face, “If I could have one night with Sarawat, he wouldn’t know what to do with himself.” She smirked, “But you’re going to have many long nights with him, you are one lucky bastard for sure.” Fong leaned over towards her and pushed his face right into hers. She slightly recoiled, but then eventually leaned in to hear what the drunk man was saying.

 

“Right?! That’s what I was telling Tine. He’s my best friend and he’s marrying such a popular dude. Like that dude could have had anyone. ANYONE! And he chose my best friend right here,” He smacked Tine hard on the chest, Tine winced from the sting and rubbed the spot where he had been hit, “But you know what missy, Sarawat’s the real lucky one here because my friend Tine has a big you know what too and he’s a lawyer, so he’s a catch you know what I’m saying. Hell if I was into guys I would totally bone Tine.” Tine groaned in horror. Why? Why was this happening to him? Was it because he killed a few spiders when he was a kid or because he accidentally ran over that newt when he first started to drive?

 

Tine turned to his friend and spoke through gritted teeth, “Fong! I think Ohm is calling you, he has some extra money for you to throw at the dancers.” Fong whipped his head around and staggered over to Ohm who was sitting right against the stage, staring at the dancers. Tine was pretty sure that he hadn’t seen Ohm blink or close his eyes since they had gotten there. He turned his attention back to the woman on his lap, “Uh, sorry do you mind moving? My legs are kind of going a bit numb.”

 

The woman acted as if she didn’t hear him. She turned her body towards another dancer and called out, “Trixie! This is the dude marrying Sarawat!” The other woman turned to look at the dancer on Tine’s lap. She hustled over, peered at him, and then scrunched up her face with what looked like disappointment.

 

“Really? That dude? Are you sure? He looked different in the pictures.” She emphasized different as she gave him the once over. She sat down on the other side of Tine and leaned against him, “How did you get that handsome piece of man?” She laughed and rifled in her bra, pulling out a cigarette. Excuse me? What did she mean by that?

 

Tine’s brows knitted together and his mouth turned down into a scowl, “We grew up together,” He mumbled, unsure of why he was giving her an answer at all. She lit up her cigarette and blew the smoke into his face. He coughed and tried to wave the smoke away.

 

“Trixie, don’t be mean. The heart wants what the heart wants right?” The dancer on his lap reached into Tine’s hair and played around with it, “So, we’re part of a little group called Team Sarawat’s Wives and it would really help us out if you gave us some information about your little fiancé.” Tine slightly panicked. Shit, were they going to post something about him being there?

 

Trixie nodded, “Yea, Candace here will give you a free lap dance if what you give us is good.” He shuddered under Candace’s touch and tried to move his head from her grasp, “SO what’s Sarawat’s favourite movie? His favourite plant? What was his first pet’s name? Did he even have a pet? How long has he played the guitar?” He frowned. He had no intention of sharing any of that information with them and most importantly, he didn’t even know the answers. He gave them a blank stare and then averted his eyes.

 

“Sarawat’s a private person. I don’t feel right giving out that information.” The women looked at each other and then back at him.

 

“Well honey we hope that we didn’t make you uncomfortable. They were just a few simple questions.” Candace shrugged her shoulders. Tine noticed a slight movement from his side and tried to turn his head to look at Trixie, but Candace grabbed his chin and turned his face towards hers, “You know, looking at you up close, you’re pretty cute Time.”

 

“Uh it’s Tine.” He corrected and gently grabbed her hand off of his face.

 

“Smile!” Trixie yelled from beside them, Tine turned to look at her and was blinded by multiple bright flashes in his eyes, “The team is going to love these, bye Tin!” Candace pushed herself off of Tine and scurried away with Trixie in tow. Tine blinked rapidly and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. Shit. Did they just take pictures of him? With the EXOTIC DANCER on his lap? Fuck! He thought he had been keeping such a low profile too. There hadn’t been any paparazzi outside, nor had anyone paid him any mind up until this point. Fuck. He hopped off of his chair and went to chase down his friends who were by the stage. He was a bit wobbly, but he made it over to them.

 

“You guys, we need to,”

 

“Hey Tine! You know what we just realised?” Phuak interrupted him and smacked him on the shoulder, “This is going to be the last time you see real breasts for the rest of your life. Forever.” He feigned crying and turned Tine’s head to look at the dancer on stage, “Are you sure you want to do give this up? You can ditch the wedding and we can hide you away for a month until the scandal, you know, dies off.” Tine smacked his hands away from his face and turned to look at his friends who were hanging all over each in their drunkenness. It was a bit weird to think that he couldn’t be with a woman for awhile. Not that he had ever had a serious relationship with one, but he definitely enjoyed being with women and looking at them. He shook his head. This was all temporary, it was just for a year and then he’d be back here in no time with these other idiots. But right now he had to focus on his current predicament and get the hell out of there.

 

“We need to leave. Now.” He squinted his eyes and pointed around the place, “I’m exposed. I can’t be here anymore.” Fong put his hand on Tine’s shoulder and leaned into him, their noses touching. Tine tried to push his head back from him.

 

“You’re being paranoid man. No one cares that you’re looking at titties, everyone here is looking at titties.” Fong pulled up his shirt and exposed his bare chest. “See now you’re looking at my titties.” There was another flash from behind him and Tine turned to see Trixie grinning at her phone. Shit! Tine quickly pulled Fong’s shirt down.

 

“Stop that!” He groaned. Ohm threw some more money on to the stage, but then suddenly pulled his phone out of his pocket. Tine could see that his face drained to the colour of paste. “Ohm, what’s up?”

Ohm’s hands shook as he looked at his phone and then up at them, “Fuck! My wife knows I’m here! I told her we were drinking late, but she just sent me a really angry text message and told me to get home. Damn, how’d she find out?!” He looked around at his friends panicked. Tine nibbled on his bottom lip nervously.

 

An unsettling thought occurred to him, “Wait does she follow anything about Sarawat?” Tine slowly asked as his friends and him moved away from the noisy stage. Ohm paused for a moment and thought.

“Yea, I’m pretty sure she told me he was hot. We definitely had a fight about it, so she might follow a page or something about him, why?” Tine grabbed Ohm’s phone and googled hashtag Team Sarawat’s wives, it linked him to twitter. When he opened the app, the first thing he saw connected to the hashtag was a picture of him with Candace sitting on his lap beaming at the camera. Tine’s eyes were squeezed shut in the picture and his face looked absolutely terrified. The blood drained from his face. He was so dead! He turned the screen towards his friend’s who looked at in shock. “Oh shit.” Ohm said slowly as he glanced between Tine and the phone. He reached out and slowly took it from Tine’s hand.

 

Tine stared at the men who in turn stared back at him, the picture having slightly sobered them up. The food in his stomach churned as panic slowly started to consume him. He was fucked. Absolutely fucked. His fingers raked through his hair and ended at the nape of his neck.

 

Fong looked at the group, “Let’s get the hell out of here.” He grabbed Tine’s arm and gestured for the other two men to follow them. They wobbled their way out of the establishment and made it out into the night air. Tine took in a deep breath and placed his hands on his hips, tilting his head up towards the sky. What the fuck was he going to do? Would Sarawat be mad? Fong walked up behind him and squeezed his shoulder, “Well that was maybe not the best idea.”

 

Tine sighed up towards the sky, “You think?”

 

Ohm staggered over to them and shook Tine’s shoulder, “I bet Tine will never ever see those pictures. I don’t think he even has Twitcher,” Ohm slurred out confidently. Phuak smacked him in the back of the head. Ohm winced and glared at his friend. “What the hell?”

 

Phuak rolled his eyes, “You mean Sarawat you dummie.” Ohm stared at the other man with a blank expression, “Sarawat not Tine. You said Tine.”

 

“I said Sarawat! You’re the idiot!” Ohm retorted and then began to dry heave, “I drank too fast guys. I messed up.” He covered his mouth as his friends stepped back away from him. They watched him for a moment before Phuak hesitantly grabbed Ohm by the shoulders and steered him away.

 

“We’re going to grab a taxi and I’ll probably crash at his place. Hopefully his wife won’t kill him if I’m there. Are you guys going to be good?” Phuak held Ohm in place before they moved on to the parking lot, his eyes settled on the two other men. Fong nodded and waved him away, “Alright, see you guys!” With that he and the other man teetered off towards a group of cabs waiting down the block. Tine and Fong glanced at each other and then looked away.

 

Fong placed his hand on Tine’s back, “Even though he was super wasted, Ohm has a point. I don’t think Sarawat has Twitter right?” He asked Tine. Tine shrugged his shoulders, he honestly didn’t know if that was true or not. There were very few apps on his fake fiancé’s phone so it was a possibility, but he couldn’t be too sure. “Look when I sober up, I’ll go back in there and tell those girls to take it down.”

 

Tine frowned, “They won’t listen to you.”

 

Fong grinned and wiggled his eyebrows, “I can be very persuasive. Don’t worry. I’ll try to fix this. You go home and get some sleep. Your eyes are super red.” Tine let out a long exhale and reached over to hug his friend tightly. He doubted that he’d be able to get the picture removed, but he appreciated the effort.

 

“Okay, see you at the wedding I guess,” Tine offered the other man a tired smile. It was crazy to think that the next time he saw his friends would more than likely be on his wedding day. Well, if Sarawat still agreed to marry him after tonight that is. Fong nodded, waved before he turned around, and then went back into the strip club. Tine clutched his stomach. He wasn’t sure if it was upset because of the numerous beers or because of his nerves. Taking in a deep breath he trudged along to the main road and hopped into a cab. He hoped that by some miraculous intervention, everything would be better in the morning.

 


Tine groaned face down into his pillow as he dreamt of Sarawat chasing him through the house with his guitar raised above his head, brandishing it like a weapon. He was trying to dodge the man and his instrument, but then Tine’s parents caught him and held him still as the dream Sarawat approached him like a predator tracking its prey. Tine struggled to get out of the hold, but the more he struggled the stronger his parents became. Tine pleaded with Sarawat, offering him anything, but the other man threw his head back in a loud laugh. His parents mirrored the predator’s movements and joined in with the laughter. Sarawat eventually stood in front of him, with his arms still raised in the air, and brought the guitar crashing down on Tine’s head.

 

“No!” Tine jerked awake and stared at his pillow. His breaths came out short and fast as he tried to remember the nightmare he had just had. “Jeez” He sighed and buried his face into his pillow once again. It was cold and damp from his perspiration. “Just a nightmare,” He muttered to himself. His head felt like there were rocks rolling around it. He vowed to never drink again for the rest of his life.

 

“Tine.” A deep voice from behind him broke the silence. Tine immediately rolled over to see Sarawat leaning against the bedroom wall by the door.

 

“Shit!” Tine yelled as he pulled his blanket up over his naked torso. “How’d you get in here?”

 

Sarawat cocked his head to the side as he watched Tine fidget in the bed, “Your mom let me in.” Tine’s mouth slightly opened and squinted in disapproval. Sarawat quirked a brow, “I’m here for my car.” Tine swallowed. Shit. “But it’s clearly not here.”

 

Tine pulled the blanket tighter around him and sat up in the bed. He noticed that Sarawat’s eyes glimpsed down at his chest for a moment before looking back at his face, “Uh, yea. I um left it at the bar last night, sorry.”

 

Sarawat’s eyes dug into Tine’s, “Oh yea?” He moved towards the bed and sat down on the edge of it, before angling his body towards Tine, “How’d that go?” Tine couldn’t quite tell what it was, but there was definitely an edge to Sarawat’s words.

 

“Um, really good.” He averted his eyes and looked at the walls of his room, “Just drank a bit too much at the bar, but they forgave me for not telling them about the engagement so that really was the best part of the night. Oh and they’ll be my groomsmen.”

 

“Really, that was the best part? Nothing else?” Sarawat scratched the side of his cheek and continued to stare at Tine.

 

Tine slowly moved his head side to side, committed to his lie.

 

 Sarawat glowered, “What about the strippers?” Tine’s eyes bulged out of his head as he gawked at Sarawat. Sarawat’s eyes narrowed dangerously, “Yea. I know about that.” He stood up from the bed and leisurely paced the bedroom, “What part of lay low confused you? The lay or the low?” He stopped pacing and stared at Tine. Fuckkkkk.

 

Tine gulped, “Look, I wanted to have fun with my friends and I didn’t expect that to happen. I was trying to be really careful. I mean I made sure there were no paparazzi outside or none that followed me there, but,” He paused, “It didn’t matter. Something bad still happened.”

 

Sarawat shook his head, “It’s not just the paparazzi. It’s everyone. Anyone!” His voice was low and harsh, “You need to wake up and understand that this isn’t a game.” Tine looked down at his hands and sighed.

 

Tine pressed his lips into a firm line, “I’m not a kid, I know that.” He had really tried to be careful, but everything had happened so quickly.

 

Sarawat scoffed, “Do you?! Because I had to reach out to that page at four in the morning and threaten litigation if they didn’t take that picture down.” Tine’s sight began to blur as he hung his head, “SO if you’re not a kid, you need to stop acting like one.”

 

Tine wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and continued to look at his lap, “Alright, thanks.” He finally managed to say. He could hear Sarawat sigh.

 

“I don’t want to change you. I don’t want you to not have fun. I just need you to be careful.” Tine looked up to see him staring at him, “The picture is down but there are screenshots of it circulating. I’ve been on the phone all morning with my lawyers. They can fix this.” Tine nodded. His eyes were still wet so he wiped it on his blanket.

 

“I’m sorry Wat.” He rubbed his hand over his face, “Fuck. I should have just stayed home.”

 

“No, you should have just stuck to the plan.” Sarawat pushed his hand into the pocket of his sweatpants. He was still clearly annoyed by the trouble Tine had caused him, “Where are my keys?” Tine pulled the blanket off of his legs and grabbed his pants that he had worn the night before from the ground. He searched through the pockets and produced the keys. Reaching out, he gave them to Sarawat who tucked them into his own pocket. With that he walked out of Tine’s room and down the stairs.

 

Tine rubbed the back of his head as he gazed at the opened door. “Shit.” Sarawat was definitely mad. His phone vibrated on the table beside him, he picked it up and opened the message from Fong.

 

[Fong]

They took the pic down! Told you I was persuasive

 

Tine rolled his eyes and dropped the phone on to the table. There was no point in telling his friend that Sarawat’s threats were the real reason behind the removal of the photo. He would let him take the win on this one. Sarawat probably wouldn’t mind.

 

 His eyes continued to stare at the door as he willed Sarawat to come back. What if he didn’t want to go through with the plan anymore? What if Sarawat’s family disliked him because of the embarrassment? Tine groaned and brought his knees up to his chest as he grabbed fistfuls of hair. Fuck. No, he couldn’t let that happen. He scrambled out of his bed and grabbed a shirt from the basket off his floor. While pulling it clumsily over his head as he made his way down the stairs, he almost slipped on a step in the process. “Sarawat!” He yelled out as he rounded the corner and ran to the front door. Slipping his sandals on to his feet, he flung the front door open and ran out into the cool morning air, “Sarawat!” He called again as his eyes scanned the area. A woman holding her young child walked quickly passed the house as she eyed him down as if he were a crazy man. Feeling self conscious, Tine gave her a sheepish grin and scurried back inside. Shit. What was he going to do now? He needed to call him and get this sorted out. His stomach grumbled either from the running mixed in with the liquor still in his stomach, or he was hungry. Sighing, he walked into the kitchen to find Sarawat and his parent’s staring at him as they drank what smelled like coffee. Teddi watched the scene from her dog bowl in the corner. Stunned, Tine stared back at Sarawat. “Sarawat!” The other man slowly brought the mug to his lips and sipped, his eyes never leaving Tine’s face, “I thought you left.”

 

Sarawat swallowed the hot drink and shook his head, “Nope.” He brought the mug to his lips again and blew into it, “Still here.” Tine’s parents shared a look with each other as they watched the interaction.

 

“We were discussing wedding prep with Sarawat. He said his mother has it all pretty much figured out, but she needs to come over and see how many chairs we need.” His mother interjected as she sipped on her own drink, “All the invites were sent out yesterday, right?” She turned her attention to Sarawat who nodded slowly.

 

“Yes. Hopefully we get confirmations soon.” Sarawat glanced at Tine who was still standing in the space between the kitchen and the living room. “Your shirt’s inside out.” His eyes raked over him, “And it’s backwards.”

 

Tine brought his chin to this chest and saw the tag sticking out from his collar. “Oh.” He flushed in embarrassment, “I meant to do that. It’s a really popular style choice these days.” Sarawat cocked his head to the side and looked at him with half lidded eyes. Tine shifted on his feet at the attention, “Can we talk?”

 

Sarawat drank from his mug again and swallowed, “Sure.” He walked out of the room and plunked himself down on the couch in the living room, his mug still in his hand. Tine followed behind him and sat down beside him. He tucked his left foot under his right thigh, looked at Sarawat and then down at his hands. “What is it? My taxi will be here soon.” Sarawat asked quietly.

 

Tine took a deep breath and closed his eyes, “Look, I know that I’ve messed up with the whole picture thing and that I’m super awkward with the whole touching thing. I get it and I totally understand if you’re thinking about calling this whole plan off, but,” He looked up into Sarawat’s eyes, “this is just a lot of new stuff that I’m learning and I just need you to give me the chance to prove to you that I can be just as good with this fake relationship as you are.” He watched as Sarawat put the mug down on the table and angled his body towards Tine. “It’s only been like a week and a half since this all happened and I need you to see that I’m legit trying to juggle my emotions about my parents, these new freaking rules about the photographers, and my work.” Tine looked away and at his hands as he tried to gather his thoughts, “I’ll wear the mouth mask you gave to me and I’ll buy a baseball hat. I’ll be wearier of the intentions of strangers. Just,” His eyes moved up to lock on to Sarawat, who was in turn staring at him, “Trust me. I got this. Or I will get this. I promise that things will calm down from here on out.” Teddi waddled her way into the living room and hopped up on to the couch, her tail wagging excitedly as she moved back and forth between the two men. Tine sighed, “I’ll be different. I’ll be better.”

 

Sarawat looked away and exhaled, “Tine.” He started and stopped, his mouth slightly parted as he looked at Tine, “Not marrying you was never an option.” He shrugged, “Didn’t even cross my mind.”

 

“Oh.” Tine felt relieved.

 

“Yea. Yea I get it. This is a lot.” Sarawat continued, “But, we’re in this together. It’ll be fine.” He reached out and caressed the side of Tine’s head. Tine fought the urge to move his head away, he would have to get used to this. “Don’t change yourself. Just be smarter. Be less of a dumbass.” Sarawat grinned and playfully pushed Tine’s head. Tine scowled and rolled his eyes. Who was he calling a dumbass?

 

A slow smile crept on to his face, “So we’re okay then?” He watched as Sarawat pet Teddi and then reached over to his mug and downed it. Sarawat nodded.

 

The sound of a car horn came from outside, Tine could see through the window that a taxi was waiting there, “You’re annoying, but we’re good.” Sarawat stood up and handed the empty mug to Tine, “Wash that for me. I have to go.”

 

Tine frowned at the mug. “The kitchen is right there,” He gestured to the room behind them.

 

Sarawat smirked, “Good job, you found it.” Tine glared at the other man as he stood up as well. Sarawat walked towards the door and stepped into his shoes. “See you.” He reached out and cupped Tine’s face before leaning in and kissing his forehead. Tine jerked back and rubbed his forehead as if he had been burned, Sarawat grinned.

 

“Ugh what the hell!” Tine continued to rub his face.

 

Sarawat’s lip pushed out and he shrugged, “Just playing the part.” With that, he opened the door and walked towards the taxi. Tine frowned as he watched him open the taxi door. Ugh, what a dickhead.

 

“Wat!” He called out before Sarawat got in. Sarawat turned his head towards him. Tine looked behind him to make sure that his parents were still in the kitchen before he turned back to the other man, “Don’t forget to sign the contracts and bring them to me.”

 

“I already signed them. They’re in my car.”

 

Tine frowned, “Don’t leave them in your car, they have a lot of confidential information in them you idiot!”

 

Sarawat shrugged, “Who’s going to see it?” With that he entered the taxi and closed the door.

Tine watched as the car drove away. With tight lips, he looked at the dirty empty mug in his hand. Damn you Saraleo.  He sighed and firmly closed the door.

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven: Ten things I don’t hate about you

 

The fact that it had been a bit more than a month and a half since their wedding day was still surprising to Tine. It hadn’t felt that long as yet. It only seemed like yesterday that he and his mother had a mother son dance in front of their family and friends, both crying as the reality of Tine’s decision removed a weight from his mother’s shoulders and placed it on his own. The memory of Sarawat and Tine awkwardly moving in time to a Scrubb song that Tine had requested from the DJ, which Sarawat had reluctantly agreed to, was still extremely fresh in his mind. Tine could still picture Sarawat’s groomsmen and his own groomsmen bonding over hard liquor while sharing stories about their own respective best friends before turning to point at Sarawat and Tine and make kissy faces as well as lewd gestures at them. Both he and his husband, correction fake husband, glowered at the other men, but Tine couldn’t help feeling relieved that the two groups of rowdy morons seamlessly got along.  He could also remember the sting of his tears as Type pulled him aside and told him how happy he was about the union and that he was so proud of his younger brother, not because he got married, but because of the man he had become. For a fake wedding, it had felt alarmingly very real.

 

 Tine had expected the wedding to be the easiest part of their marriage and had braced himself for a rough time moving in to the condo in addition to actually living with Sarawat. But he had been surprised to find out that Sarawat had already painted the black walls of their home a nice warm gray in honour of Teddi and Tine moving in. As promised, Sarawat had quickly handed over his credit card so that Tine could decorate the home for the time being. Tine wasn’t one to be too excited about home decor, but he had promptly dragged along both his mother and mother in law to help him find some nice pieces to add to his new home. The place still had many black elements to suit Sarawat’s tastes, but now there was a nice blend of a few coloured cushions, lamps, paintings of various things, and their wedding portrait hung up on the wall in the condo. Tine hadn’t wanted the portrait up, but Sarawat had insisted that it would only make their relationship appear more credible, so he had to reluctantly agree.

 

 Not only did Sarawat’s home change, but Tine felt that the other man seemed different as well. They still bickered and called each other names, but there was less hostility in the tone and more of a teasing element to it. Tine didn’t think it was possible but Sarawat actually smiled at him now, instead of the regular smirks that he reserved for him in public. He also began speaking a lot more to Tine about almost anything that came to his mind. Living with the man had provided more conversation than they had over their lifetime of knowing each other. At first Tine had been uneasy with the drastic changes, but now he looked forward to coming home every day and talking about anything with Sarawat. The man was insanely smart, even though Tine personally didn’t think Sarawat looked too bright. Tine had only recently found out that his fake husband worked as a political analyst for a government agency, and knew a lot about domestic and foreign political issues. Which Tine knew absolutely nothing about, but thoroughly enjoyed it when Sarawat broke things down for him while they shared dinner together every night. That was another thing Tine had discovered about his husband, Sarawat was a damned good cook. Tine wasn’t sure where he had picked up the skills, but every meal he prepared, whether it was a Thai dish, or a foreign one, left Tine salivating for more. The lawyer absolutely loved to eat and it seemed that Sarawat enjoyed feeding him as much as he wanted. Aside from all of the new changes Tine had discovered, he had been more than grateful when he and Sarawat had gone to Tine’s parent’s house a week after the wedding and handed over a large lump sum to them for the store. His father had declined three times as the men remained in Wai positions before he finally broke down and accepted the money from his son and son in law. The store was currently undergoing renovations now, which both Sarawat and Tine’s father oversaw, to make sure that it would be able to compete with the newer stores around. No matter how much Sarawat annoyed Tine, he would forever be indebted to his new roommate.

 

Due to their busy schedules and the fact that their relationship wasn’t even real, they had chosen not to go on a honeymoon which didn’t settle too well with the tabloids. They constantly blasted them and stated that there must have been trouble in paradise for the newlyweds. That was probably one of the more difficult things Tine had struggled with since they got married, the stupid randoms who photographed and spoke ill of them. They were hounded mercilessly every time that they were out together. When Tine was alone he was photographed once in awhile, but Sarawat was still harassed any moment he was out, whether or not he was with Tine. It scared Tine with how aggressive the people were with Sarawat, he didn’t want the other man to get in trouble with striking one of them someday. Even thought he felt like Sarawat would be well within his rights to do so. The black mouth masks and baseball hats had been a staple in many of their outings where they weren’t purposely trying to amp it up for the pictures. Tine was proud to say that he had gotten much better with the hand holding, the hugs, and the numerous forehead kisses Sarawat gave him. It almost looked so insanely genuine, that even Tine had to remind himself that it was an act.

 

“Earth to Albino Buffalo,” Ugh, not that nickname again! He never thought that he would miss being called nuisance as much as when Sarawat switched over to the albino buffalo. Yes his skin was light, but the nickname was just uncalled for. Sarawat waved his hand in front of Tine’s face and stared at him, “Are you wasted already?” He smiled as he looked at Tine. Tine adjusted himself on the floor and smiled sheepishly at him and their guests.

 

“Sorry, no. I was just thinking.” Tine grabbed his beer and took a sip. “Is it my turn?”

 

“Nope it is I, Boss’s turn to choose!” Boss, one of Sarawat’s long time best friends, sat cross legged on their sofa. Tine liked him, he thought he was a bit weird and had some insane stories, but overall he was a fun guy who seemed to care a lot about Sarawat. He had found it interesting that Sarawat had even found a friend as eccentric as Boss was and had remained friends over all that time despite such stark character differences.  “I choose dare!” He wiggled his eyebrows and clapped his hands excitedly. “Who dares to give me a dare!” Boss looked around the room at the small group of men sitting there. He pointed at each one of them, “Will it be you?! Or you? Or even you newbie if you dare?” His last question had been directed to a lamp in the corner. Tine couldn’t even tell whether or not the man was wasted or sober. He was pretty sure that this wasn’t the first time Boss had spoken to a lamp and he was confident that it wouldn’t be the last.

 

Type leaned forward from his position between Man’s stretched out legs. Man had his back against the couch as they sat on the floor despite there being an armchair beside them. Type pensively scratched his chin, “I got it.” He smiled wickedly, “I want you to go and eat one of Teddi’s dog treats.”

 

Boss rolled his eyes, “Is that what you call a challenge?! I eat dog treats for breakfast.” He cockily stood up and walked over to the kitchen to grab a box of dog biscuits from the counter. Without a hitch he stuffed two of them in his mouth and chewed slowly, “Delicious.” He said between bites. “I might buy my own box for a snack.”

 

Tine burst out laughing as his face scrunched up in disgust, “Ugh, please stop eating my dog’s food. I beg of you.”

 

Boss smiled with the food still in his mouth, “Only because you asked so sweetly young Tine. Alright, Sarawat it is your turn! Choose wisely, truth or dare!” Sarawat sipped thoughtfully on his beer and then grinned.

 

He swallowed the liquid and eyed his friend, “Dare.”

 

Man clapped happily from behind Type, “I got a good one for you! Lick a part of Tine’s body, but keep it PG!”

 

Type covered his face with his hands, but peeked through his spread fingers, “Oh god, do I have to watch? I saw him as a baby you know.” Tine glanced over at Sarawat. The other man’s eyes raked over him. Shit, that’s not good. Tine put his hand out in front of Sarawat’s face.

 

“I’d say lick my face, but,” He gestured to the few mosquito bites he had gotten on there a week ago while he had walked from his work to the bus. Normally he was able to evade them, but they had gotten him pretty good this time. He had been treating them every night with the calamine lotion that Sarawat had picked up from the store. “Here lick these,” Tine laughed and wiggled his fingers at Sarawat. Sarawat gave him a mischievous look as he reached out and placed his hand on the back of Tine’s head before he cocked his own head to the side and licked a long wet strip against Tine’s neck. He playfully sucked a red spot on the bright skin as he repeatedly suctioned the smooth flesh between his plump lips. Woah. Tine’s eyes bugged out of his head as he sat there in shock, his body slightly shaking from the attention. He only managed to move when he felt the nip of Sarawat’s teeth against the skin of his neck. His mind went blank as he watched Sarawat move back into the position he had been sitting in initially with one leg stretched out and the other bent at the knee. Sarawat’s expression was neutral as if he hadn’t just given Tine a hickie in front of their friends.

 

“Damn, look how red his face is getting! You look like a deliciously juicy tomato Tine,” Boss giggled as he finished his third beer. Tine put his beer bottle down and brought his hands to his cheeks. He avoided Sarawat’s gaze and shot daggers at Man for the suggestion. Man noticed the look and burst out laughing.

 

“Oh don’t look at me like that! You know I love you bro in law.” Tine gave the other man the finger and Man reciprocated it by blowing him a kiss. Tine pretended to catch it and mimed throwing it on the ground, “Harsh.” Man laughed and took another swig of beer.

 

Type made a disgusted face, his mouth scrunched up and his brow puckered, “I’m scarred for life.”

 

Tine scoffed, “Oh shut up! You think I enjoyed hearing Man talk about your favourite sex position and how often you guys do it in a week?! Newsflash, I didn’t enjoy it at all! In fact, I’m probably going to wash my ears out with bleach.”

 

Boss slowly raised his hand, “I enjoyed it, if that’s any consolation.” Man took a chip from the bowl on the coffee table and tossed it at his friend, who impressively caught it with his mouth. “Thank you! I was just thinking, boy I wish I had a chip and then look what happened. Thoughts become things, remember that friends.” Tine shook his head but couldn’t help the smile that was on his face. He was happy that Sarawat’s friends had come over. It was the first time they were able to get together since the wedding. Plus, he always missed seeing his older brother.

 

Sarawat stood up, “Anyone need another beer?” The entire group raised their hands. Sarawat frowned and then nudged Tine with his toe, “Come help me.” Tine begrudgingly finished off his own bottle, his third or fourth, and followed slowly after the man into the kitchen. Sarawat watched him come in, “Did you get all your things out of the guest room?”

 

Tine nodded, “Not everything, because I’ll be back in there tomorrow. They only need it tonight.” Type and Man were going to sleep in the guest room, which had been Tine’s room for the month and a bit. And Boss had happily agreed to sleep on the couch in the living room. Sarawat studied him for a second and then looked away. Tine silently stared back at Sarawat, his mind sluggishly going over the neck lick. Sarawat glanced at him and gave him a tiny smile as he grabbed more beers from the fridge, “Spit it out little buffalo.”

 

Tine flushed, “What are you talking about? Spit out what?”

 

Sarawat twisted the tops off of the bottles, “Oh I thought you wanted to talk about the neck thing, but I guess you don’t.” He grabbed all five beers by the necks and started to walk away. Tine grabbed Sarawat’s bicep.

 

“Wait.”

 

Sarawat stepped back and looked at him.

 

 Tine swallowed, “Why, did you do that?”

 

“Because we’re supposed to be married Tine.” He laughed, “If I couldn’t do that, wouldn’t that be weird?” Tine nibbled on his bottom lip as he thought it through, “I’m sorry if I embarrassed you.”

 

Tine rolled his eyes, “I wasn’t embarrassed dickhead, just surprised.”

 

Sarawat raised a brow, “Surprised? Or turned on?” Tine’s eyebrows rose up and his mouth slightly parted. He had not been turned on one bit! So what if certain parts of his body had sprung to life? That meant nothing at all.  Sarawat smiled and then licked his bottom lip, “Oh, so you were turned on. I’ll remember that for later.” Tine scoffed and grabbed two of the beers from the other’s hand.

 

“You try that again and I’ll karate chop you into oblivion.”

 

His husband smirked, “With those tiny hands? I might just take the risk.” With that Sarawat walked back into the living room leaving Tine gawking behind him. Fucking Saraleo. He followed the man out and plopped himself down on the floor after handing one of the beers to Sarawat.

 

Man rubbed Type’s shoulder’s and kissed the side of his husband’s head, which made Type giggle. Tine grinned as he watched the other two. He would have never thought that they would become this sappy married couple, who still absolutely adored each other five years into their marriage. Man had chased after his brother for years until Type had finally given up and agreed to one date and one date only. That one date would lead to two and so on. Tine hoped to have such a happy marriage with someone who loved him that much some day. Type caught his eye and smiled.

 

“Your turn little bro.”

 

Boss leaned over and whispered in his direction, “Choose dare! Do it, come on! Be one of the cool kids.”

Tine squinted one eye and took a big gulp of his beer, “Truth.” Boss groaned and dramatically threw himself back against the couch.

 

“You suck.” He heard the other man mutter under his breath.

 

“Hey, that’s my husband you’re talking about.” Sarawat lowered his eyebrows, but his mouth was still smiling.

 

Boss sat up, “Oh my bad, your husband sucks.” He stuck his tongue out and then made a face at Sarawat.

 

Type cleared his throat and cocked his head to the side, “Ok, list ten things that you like about Wat.” Tine frowned. Fuck. What did he like about Sarawat?

 

He opened his mouth, “He’s kind. He’s an amazing dog dad. He’s a wonderful musician. He’s a fucking great cook. Very smart and knows all of his shit. Smells really good, like all of the time, even when he’s wearing no cologne. He’s annoyingly witty. Nice teeth. Really caring. And,” He gazed at Sarawat who was watching him with a surprised look on his face, “His lips are pretty sexy.” Sarawat’s jaw dropped as he looked at Tine. A blush bloomed on his cheeks before he averted his gaze. Tine smirked and brought the beer bottle to his mouth. Oh, did you think you were the only one who could make the other blush? Think again Saraleo.

 

“Shit, you know that they’re going to be fucking tonight.” Boss blurted out matter of factly. Tine reached up and grabbed a cushion from the couch and smacked him with it. The group laughed and finished off their drinks.

 

Tine sighed, “I got to go to bed guys. I have to go to work in the morning.”

 

Man’s eyebrows knitted together, “On a Saturday?” Tine nodded.

“Yea, this old man keeps changing his will and testament. So Green and I have to fix it up.”

 

Boss moved his body so that his legs were stretched against the back of the couch and his shoulders and head hung off the edge. “Who’s Green?”

 

“Tine’s paralegal.” Sarawat answered for Tine as he shoved another chip in his mouth and licked the salt off of his fingers, “He has a lot of energy.” Tine nodded in agreement.

 

“He was in love with me for months until I introduced him to the son of one of my clients and then he threw me away like trash.” Tine sighed.

 

“It’s okay, you’re my trash now.” Sarawat teased as he sipped his beer. Tine narrowed his eyes.

 

“How romantic. You ass.” With that he stood up and looked at their guests. “See you guys in the morning.” He noticed that Sarawat stood up too.

 

“Man, you know where everything is right?” Tine scrunched up his face in confusion as he watched him. Man nodded and held his beer bottle up to say goodnight. Sarawat turned to Tine. “I have to go to bed too, don’t you want me to drop you off?”

 

Tine’s eyes widened and he shook his head, “No, I can take a taxi or bus it. It’s fine, you stay with your friends.”

 

Sarawat frowned, “I’m dropping you off.” He pressed his lips into a firm line, “No arguments about it.” He reached over Tine and playfully smacked Boss on the head.

 

“Ow!” Boss clutched his head and narrowed his eyes at Sarawat, “I thought we were friends! I thought you loved me.”

 

Sarawat laughed, “We are friends, but I only have love for this idiot over here.” He gestured to Tine with his head. Tine rolled his eyes at the pair and reminded himself that Sarawat’s words had no meaning. “Do you have everything?” Sarawat inquired. Boss looked over at the extra pillow and blanket that was piled on the floor.

 

“Yea man, you know that I could sleep anywhere, remember that time I fell asleep in a tree, oh and the other time I fell asleep in a well.” He took a drink of his beer and gargled the liquid in his mouth before swallowing it. Type whipped his head towards Boss.

 

“Say what!?” Type’s eyes widened comically, “A well? How, in the heck?”

 

Boss smiled widely and bounced on the chair in excitement, “I didn’t tell you the well story? Shit, okay picture this, a young handsome me, some fireworks, three monkeys, and a rope, oh and of course a well. So it all started when,” Tine snorted out a laugh at the other man’s antics and walked off to the bedroom. He really needed to sleep and the booze was making him tired aside from just tipsy. Teddi was already snuggled up on the edge of the bed sleeping, but she slightly opened her eyes when Tine entered. He reached out and gently scratched her behind the ears before he got up and went to the en suite bathroom. After he had brushed his teeth and applied the calamine lotion to the shrinking red spots on his face, he came out of the bathroom to find Sarawat sitting on the side of the bed looking at his phone.

 

“Hey.” Tine smiled tiredly as he stood by the bathroom door. “I’m done if you need to get in there.”

Sarawat looked up from his phone and smiled, “Alright. Thanks.” He got up, walked up to Tine and peered into his face, “The bumps are getting a lot smaller.” He observed. Tine could tell that he was blushing under the intensity of Sarawat’s gaze. Tine laughed nervously and walked around Sarawat to get to the bed.

 

“Yea, they’ll be gone in a day or two.” He looked at the bed, “Does it matter what side you’re on?”

 

Sarawat smirked. “Yea, closest to the door so I can protect my husband from intruders.”

 

Tine scoffed, “What intruders?”

 

Stepping into the bathroom, Sarawat turned and looked at Tine with a blank expression, “Crazy world out there, you never know.” With that, he closed the door. What an idiot. The only intruder they would have is a mouse or something. Tine pulled the covers back and sunk into the bed. Teddi lifted her head and carefully walked over to lay beside him as she normally did when he slept alone. It was weird that he was going to share a bed with Sarawat. He hadn’t slept beside anyone in a bed for a very long time, if ever. He wasn’t quite sure why he was nervous, but he was.

 

The bathroom door opened and Sarawat walked out shirtless, with the front of his hair tied in a ponytail that stuck up, his glasses on, and when he smiled Tine saw the wire bar of a retainer on his top teeth.

 

Tine stared at the other man in absolute shock. He had never seen him looking like this in the condo before or anywhere for that matter. His attention was first on the man’s impossibly fit body and abs, but the more he looked at Sarawat’s face the more difficult it was for him not to laugh. He brought his hand to his mouth as he eyed his roommate.

 

“Don’t you dare laugh.” Sarawat warned him even though he had a smile on his face.

 

“Wat, I would never laugh.” Tine said as seriously as he could, but a few giggles escaped him.

 

Sarawat flashed his teeth, showing off the Hawley Retainer in his mouth. Seeing it made Tine laugh even harder. He had never seen Sarawat look so nerdy, but he hated him for how cute he still managed to look. Some guys just have all the luck, “Shut up polka dot face.” Sarawat teased while he pulled the blanket down to get in beside Tine and Teddi.

 

“Hey, I didn’t say anything about your face.” Tine pouted and jutted out his chin, “Don’t be an ass, I was honestly trying to be nice.”

 

Sarawat’s eyes raked over Tine’s face as he settled into the bed, “You’re still very cute, even with the spots.” He scratched Teddi’s head, “You should feel special. Only a chosen few get to see me all natural, no contacts, teeth shifting around, hair pinned up.”

 

“Thank you for the honour.” Tine wiggled his eyebrows as he continued to be sarcastic, “I’ll remember it forever.” Sarawat smiled shyly at him and pulled his phone out from his short’s pocket. Tine watched as he turned his camera on to selfie mode and held the phone high above them. Sarawat positioned his phone so that he, Tine and a sleepy Teddi would be in it. Tine covered his face, “Ugh, no stop!” He yelled and put his hand out to block the phone.

 

“Oh boy, someone’s not getting sex tonight!” They heard Boss yell through the door and the laughter of the other two in the living room followed.

 

“Pervert!” Sarawat yelled out as he continued to hold the phone. He turned his face to look at Tine, their noses almost touching, “You said you’ll remember this forever.” He grinned, “I want to remember this too.”

 

Tine ducked his head, “Why? We look like shit.” Sarawat watched him intently, his eyes boring into Tine’s.

 

“Because I want to capture every moment that makes me feel happy. And right now, lying with you and Teddi like this, I feel extremely happy.” Sarawat’s eyelashes fluttered as he gave Tine a coy smile, “Please?” Tine let out a long breath and moved in so his head was more in the frame. They both looked into the camera and smiled widely before Sarawat held the button down, taking multiple pictures.

 

Sarawat opened up his gallery. Tine adjusted his head to see and saw that there were a few pictures of Teddi, some of Tine, and some random scenery pictures in the phone.

“Hey!” Tine grabbed the phone, “Why do you have pictures of me?” Sarawat grabbed the phone back and rolled his eyes.

 

“What married couple has no pictures of their spouse?” Tine opened his mouth and then closed it, “Exactly,” Sarawat said smugly as he put his phone on the bedside table beside him. Tine hated to admit it, but Sarawat was right. He had absolutely no photos of Sarawat in his phone and had someone asked him to see them, it would have been a red flag. Tine rolled over and grabbed his phone, before rolling back over to face Sarawat.

 

“Let’s take a picture on my phone.” Tine stated as he eyed the other man. Sarawat rubbed his eyes sleepily and nodded. Tine opened his camera and held it up so that they were both in the frame, “Ready? One, two, three,” On the three Sarawat leaned in and placed a gentle kiss to Tine’s cheek. Startled, Tine dropped the phone on to his face, “Ah fuck.” He groaned as he picked it up. Sarawat burst out into a fit of giggles. Tine couldn’t help giggling too, he loved seeing this side of Sarawat, “Shut up, you made me do that.”

 

Sarawat grinned, “My bad. Also send me that picture.” He rolled over, pulled off his glasses, and faced the door. “See you in the morning buffalo.”

 

“Wait aren’t you going to turn off the light?” Tine stared at the other man’s back. As if on cue dramatic snoring sounded from Sarawat. “You suck.” Tine muttered under his breath, before hopping out of bed to turn off the light, and then crawling back in. Sarawat rolled over, facing Tine. His hands were cushioned under the pillow and his shoulder came up to his chin.

 

The light from the moon illuminated Sarawat’s face in the stark darkness of the bedroom. Tine stared at the other man, slightly transfixed by how beautiful he still managed to look even with his lips jutting out from the retainer in his mouth. He let out a deep relaxed breath as his eyes locked on to the other’s lips. They were surprisingly plump and full for a man, and they just looked soft. Often times, Tine just wanted to reach out and touch them with his fingertips and see if the skin was as smooth as it appeared. Adjusting his head on his own pillow he pulled his bottom lip between his teeth and frowned. Ugh, what was he doing? Stop staring at him, it’s weird. He glanced at the dog snoring softly between them and reached out to rub her head. It was nice seeing how well Sarawat had taken care of her. He had never seemed like an animal person, but Sarawat was always playing with her, or taking her out for walks, or buying her toys. Tine had playfully scolded him the other day for spoiling her, but Sarawat had simply shrugged. Tine’s gaze moved up from the dog and back to the other man, as if pulled by magnets. Sarawat was looking back at him with half lidded eyes. Aside from the muted conversations from their guests outside the room was relatively quiet as they watched each other.

 

“Are you staring at me?” Sarawat smiled and the metal bar across his teeth glistened in the moonlight, causing Tine to chuckle.

 

“Meh, who would want to stare at you?” He smiled back, his hair slightly falling into his eye. Sarawat reached out and pushed Tine’s hair back, his fingers gently swiping across his brow. Tine’s breath hitched at the contact.

 

Sarawat pulled his hand back and gave him an amused look, “Night nuisance.”

 

Tine’s face broke out into a broad grin. “Goodnight Saraleo.” His voice was low as he closed his eyes. Feeling content, Tine fell into a deep sleep beside his husband.

 


Tapping his chin with his pen, Tine studied the document on his computer and glanced down at the notes he had written on his legal pad. The client he was writing the will for had many issues with his adult children and continued to take them out and put them in back into the will whenever they annoyed him. He was also always changing what he intended to leave for what child and would often tell Tine to move assets back and forth between the kids depending on who was annoying him the most. At this point Tine and his paralegal had modified over twenty different versions of the will. Sighing, he rubbed his eyes and glanced at the time. It was almost noon. That morning he had been absolutely mortified when he found himself wrapped up in Sarawat’s arms, with his back pressed firmly against the other man’s torso. Something hard had pressed against his lower back and Tine had prayed that it was Sarawat’s hand, but on further inspection realised that it wasn’t. He had been so embarrassed that he had quietly slipped out of the bedroom, showered in the bathroom by the living room, and hadn’t bothered eating anything before he left. However he did manage to snap a picture of Boss sucking his thumb on the couch while he slept. He knew that Sarawat would be annoyed that he had bussed to work, but Tine really didn’t think that he could face him after what he had felt.

 

“Tinnnnne,” Tine snapped out of his thoughts and looked at the man walking into his office and gracefully sitting down on the edge of his desk. “Are you hungry? I ordered some food to be delivered and I am always willing to share with my favourite guy.” Green crossed his legs and beamed happily at Tine.

 

“Oh, yea thanks! I was just thinking about eating.” Tine smiled happily back. He liked Green even though the other man often was a bit too open about sharing information about his personal life. Green nodded and cocked his head to the side.

 

“You’re welcome Tine anything for you.” Green continued to stare at Tine, “Tine, I have a question.”

 

Tine glanced down at his computer and began typing something that he had missed into the file, he looked up for a second and then back down at the screen. Oh no, please let it be about work.

 

“Mhm?”

 

“Tine, do you and Sarawat ever use bondage when you’re having sex? Because I was trying to convince Dim that it was all really normal for couples to do it. You know using handcuffs and blindfolds, nipple clamps, and maybe a whip or two. I recently read that book Fifty Shades of Grey and it was absolutely amazing, and I was like ugh, why aren’t Dim and I using whips and clamps? I don’t mind being spanked or maybe experimenting with toys, but he’s so prudish about everything and I’m like wake up you weirdo, we’re in the twenty first century now! You know what I mean?” Green finally took a breath after he had finished speaking. Tine’s hands hovered over the keyboard as he gaped at the man sitting on his desk. Wait, what? Did he really hear what was just said? He slowly swallowed and finally looked away.

 

“Um, wow.” He finally made out as he looked at his keyboard, “Maybe, you guys can watch something,” He shrugged, “Erotic on the computer? Maybe show him what you want?” Green tapped his chin in thought.

 

“That’s a good idea! See, this is why I was so desperately in love with you for a bit.” Green winked and playfully swatted Tine’s arm. “I’ll find a whole library of things that I want Dim to do to me and show it to him. Oh, I can also wear these really tiny shorts that have a wink emoji over the crotch. He loves those shorts so much that he bought me one in every colour! Can you believe that, I have six of those shorts. And they’re rarely even on longer than two minutes because he just rips them off of me with his teeth and whisks me away to the bedroom every time.” Green laughed and then winked at Tine, “Well not every time, sometimes he takes me in the kitchen or the bathroom, can you believe we’ve even done it on the dining table? That thing didn’t even look that strong, but it held up under a lot of movement.” Tine watched as Green got lost in thought. “Maybe we can do it on the coffee table next.” Tine scrunched up his face and tried to refocus his attention back on the computer. A loud knock from the main office door caught his attention. “Oh wow, my food got here so fast!” Green hopped up off the desk and scurried over to the door. Tine was relieved that the food was there, he was hungry and he hoped that Green would stop talking as much if he had food in his mouth.

 

He saved the file and closed the lid of his laptop as he watched Green come back into the room carrying a takeout container in a plastic bag and a blue drink in another hand. He was beaming at Tine and handed them over to him. Tine eyed the drink. Blue Hawaii? He hadn’t had one of those in ages. Hesitantly, he took the items and placed them on his desk. Stuck to the bag was a sticky note. Enjoy lunch my Albino Buffalo. “What?” Tine looked up at Green who was smiling as if in a daze.

 

“Your husband is by far the most attractive man that I have ever seen in the flesh. I honestly don’t know how you manage to come to work every day. I’d just lay in bed with my legs up ready to go at any minute.” Green fanned himself. “Just don’t tell Dim I said that, he can get a little jealous!” Sarawat was here? Tine quickly jumped up and ran out of the office towards the elevators. Sarawat stood there with his back to him, he held a baseball cap and mask in his left hand.

 

“Sarawat,” Tine called out. Sarawat turned around and grinned at him.

 

“Hey.” They moved towards each other, “Your elevators are slow.” Sarawat frowned.

 

Tine nodded, “Yea I know, sorry.” He watched the other man and gave him a sheepish grin, “Thanks for bringing me lunch. You didn’t have to do that, especially since I ran out on you this morning.” He glanced at his feet, “I, uh, didn’t want to wake you up. You looked really peaceful.”

 

Sarawat shook his head, “It’s okay, I just chalked it up to the fact you’re a bit weird.” He smirked, “But weirdoes have to eat too, so I picked something up.” Tine’s gaze moved up.

 

“Shut up,” He said softly, unsure why his heart rate was steadily speeding up.

 

“Make me,” Sarawat retorted, his voice gruff and low. Sarawat’s eyes glanced at Tine’s lips and then back at his eyes. He stepped closer to Tine, brought his hand up, and curled his index finger under his chin. Tine licked his lips and closed his eyes as Sarawat leaned in, he could feel the cool tip of Sarawat’s nose playfully brush against his own. He opened his eyes and watched as Sarawat lightly pressed his lips against the tip of his nose before straightening up. Tine’s jaw dropped and his face felt like it was on fire. Sarawat studied his face and then smiled as the elevator dinged, the doors opened up. He turned and walked into the elevator, leaning his back against the wall behind him, “See you at home nuisance.” Tine saw him smirk and pull on his baseball cap as the doors closed between them. What in the hell was that? Why did he do that? The nose kiss was new. He brought his fingers to his cheeks and continued to stare at the elevator. Why had he let him lean in? Did he close his eyes? How embarrassing.

 

“Wow,” Tine quickly spun around at the voice behind him and stared at Green who had his hands placed over his chest as he stared in the direction that Sarawat had gone. “That is one sexy man.”

 

Tine’s brows knitted together as he looked at his paralegal, “Green! How long were you standing there?”

 

Green sighed, “The whole time and I’m so happy that I did.” Tine rolled his eyes. So that was why Sarawat had kissed his nose. He must have seen Green there and wanted to put on a little show. The elevator opened again and a delivery man stepped out.

 

“Order for Green?”

 

“Yes, that’s me!” Green skipped over to the man and took the food, while giving him a flirtatious smile. “Thank you.” The man tipped his hat and turned to press the elevator button, “Tine, let’s eat I’m starving.” Tine nodded and followed after him. He placed his hand on his stomach and sighed as he willed the annoying fluttering feelings to go away.

Chapter Text

Chapter Eight: Denial, Not Just a River in Egypt

 

Seven weeks had passed since Sarawat had brought Tine lunch at work on that fateful Saturday. Based on the way Tine now felt around Sarawat, he could surmise that they were definitely good friends and the fluttering in his stomach, the racing heart beat, was purely platonic roommate love. There was no other plausible explanation.  He had never had a roommate before which could explain why weird things were happening to him or why he was behaving so peculiarly. It was all because of the roommate love. The excitement he felt when Sarawat came home was just because he was happy to see his roommate. The fact that he now made more of an effort on his appearance whenever he was around Sarawat was once again all because of the roommate love. Those moments where he went out of his way to get Sarawat’s favourite snacks or drinks was of course all attributed to that purely platonic brotherly roommate love. Tine was just an amazing roommate that was all. He would have felt this way and would do these same things for any roommate. The fact that he had chosen to continue sleeping beside Sarawat after that first night was purely out of laziness to carry his pillow back to the other room. Plus, he didn’t want to displace Teddi since she was a very sensitive dog and he didn’t want to move her back and forth. Sometimes Sarawat would cuddle him, but Tine was sure that was just what roommates did from time to time and Sarawat knew that Tine got cold easily so he was just being a very caring roommate. It all made perfect sense and Tine was thrilled that he had figured it all out.

 

So as he stood over the stove in the cooking class, which he had enrolled in to learn to cook for Sarawat, he told himself that he was just doing it because he wanted to be an even better roommate. There was absolutely no other reason that he had chosen to take the classes, in secret, on the weekends to surprise his roommate with a home cooked meal. He simply just felt bad that he could barely boil noodles whereas Sarawat could cook a three course meal. Tine just wanted to even out their cooking responsibilities. He reached over the pot and grabbed some salt to sprinkle in the red curry that he was making. This was his second attempt at making it in the class. The first time he tried he had burned his hand and had told Sarawat that he had spilled coffee on it at work. He didn’t feel good lying about it, but it was for a good cause so he didn’t really see the harm in it. Tine was determined to get the meal right this time.

 

“Tine,” A young sweet voice sounded beside him, he glanced over and smiled at one of his cooking instructors. “How is your sauce coming along?” She peered into the pot.

 

“I think I got it this time Pear, it doesn’t smell as burnt.” He beamed proudly and looked at the food. Pear glanced at it too and then back at him with a hopeful smile.

 

“Good Tine and you measured out the salt properly this time right?” Tine stopped stirring. Shit, he knew he had forgotten something.

 

“Um, I kind of eyeballed it, but I’m sure it’s fine.”

 

Pear’s eyebrows slowly rose up, “Okay, because remember what happened the other time.” Tine nodded, he tried very hard to forget that other time. Earn, the other cooking instructor and Pear’s fiancé, walked up to them.

 

“How’s it going?” She peeked at the sauce and wrapped her arm around Pear’s shoulders. She leaned in and pressed a quick kiss to the side of her head. Pear giggled and swatted at the woman beside her.

Tine smiled at them, “Going pretty good. Do you want to taste?” Earn glanced at the sauce and then at her fiancé. Tine noticed the look and sighed, “I’m sure it’s way better this time. I was more careful and I didn’t misread how much salt to add.”

 

Pear muttered to her fiancé from the side of her mouth before breaking into a pained smile, “He also didn’t measure it again.”

 

He could see Earn visibly swallow hard before hesitantly nodding, “Sure Tine. But if you poison me, I will sue you and your husband.” He frowned and dipped a spoon into the sauce, scooped out a piece of broccolini and handed it over to Earn. He heard her mumble a silent prayer before she put it into her mouth and chewed. Both he and Pear stared at her as she slowly began to smile. “Tine, this is not too bad! It’s actually tasty.” She nodded and put a bit more curry on the spoon before offering it to Pear. Pear ate some and smiled at Tine before clapping happily.

 

“Tine, it’s really good! This is a big improvement for you.”

 

Earn nodded, “Yea, Sarawat is going to love it. Just make sure you make it just how you made it today, EXACTLY the same way.” She grinned and looked over his shoulder at something behind him, “Oh no, Nene’s pot is boiling over.” He watched her beeline to help a girl at another station. Tine turned off the burner and covered the pot of food. He smiled happily to himself at the idea of Sarawat eating and enjoying the food he had prepared.

 

Pear scanned the room and looked at the other students before turning her attention on to Tine, “Do you feel proud?”

 

He nodded and gave her a shy smile, “Yea, I’ve never really made anything anyone would consider edible before I guess, so I really hope that Sarawat likes it.”

 

Pear flipped her hair behind her shoulder, “You must love him a lot to take the time out of your weekends together to come and practice cooking for him. He must be so grateful to have you.” Love him? No, he just wanted to make a nice meal. That was all. He forced a smile and then averted his gaze. “Yea, I’ve seen the way that he looks at you in the tabloids and on those blog sites. It’s the same way Earn looks at me.” She sighed and glanced over at Earn, “I know that she can look tough on the outside, but she’s a real softy when you get to know her.”

 

Tine smirked, “Sarawat’s the same way. He’s really gentle and surprisingly sweet when you get to know him.” He stared off into the distance for a moment, lost in thought. A slightly dreamy look settled on his face. Pear giggled.

 

“Oh boy, you really love him. That’s so cute. I hope that Earn and I are still gaga for each other after we get married.” Tine startled at what she was saying. Why does she keep saying that? He was not into Sarawat in any way shape or form. She jumped up and down excitedly, “Tine I just realised that this is the first batch of food that you can finally take home to your husband!”

 

“Oh, I can’t. I wanted to surprise him with dinner at home. He doesn’t actually know I’ve been coming here.” He wrung his hands and looked at the food. “Could you guys take it home or can we give it to a homeless person maybe?”

“That is so romantic! A surprise dinner, wow Tine!” She reached out and gently squeezed his arm, “Sure, we can see if anyone wants the rest of your food, if not we can definitely give it away to someone in need.”

 

Tine did his best not to frown, he tried to remind himself that she didn’t know the truth about him and Sarawat’s arrangement, so of course it would seem like he was into him. And they were legally married. But her continuous mentions of love and romance made him feel that weird fluttering in his stomach which he definitely didn’t like. If he could have explained what roommate love was to her, she would have understood what his true intentions were. “Thanks.”

 

“No problem, I have to go help someone with their chicken chunks, just call us if you need us.” Pear showed her dazzling smile and walked over to another student. Tine thought that she was very cute and knew that had he met her in university, he would have definitely been into her. He liked Pear and Earn together, they were like yin and yang but they complimented each other extremely well.

 

After class he went back to the condo and opened the door to find Sarawat on the floor playing tug of war with Teddi. The man held a short knotted rope as the dog playfully tried to pull it out of his hands. Sarawat would let go and she would pause and walk over to him to drop the rope in his lap, urging him to pick it up. Tine watched the two of them for a few seconds before Sarawat turned his head and smiled up at Tine. Tine’s heart slightly skipped a beat. He pushed his fingers through his hair and hoped that he didn’t look like a sweaty mess after the class, “Hey little buffalo. How was work?” Sarawat quickly held the rope high over his head and turned to look at Teddi. She scrambled up his body in an attempt to get the toy back, but knocked Sarawat backwards in the process. Sarawat giggled as his back hit the floor, “Jeez Teddi, you’ve put on some weight girl.” He threw the rope and she bolted across the room to get it. Tine could feel the goofy smile on his face as he watched them and immediately turned his back on the other man to head to the kitchen.

 

“Work was pretty good. I got a lot done, but I have a few more things to do tonight.” He yelled over his shoulder as he ducked his head into the fridge. What was there to eat?

 

“I made dinner for you, it’s in the microwave.” Tine slightly jumped at the voice behind him, he hadn’t even heard Sarawat come into the kitchen. He turned around to face him as the fridge door stayed open at his back. Sarawat licked his lips and walked right up to Tine. Who’s breathing so loudly? Oh shit it was him. His breaths were coming out in short spurts as the other man approached.

 

“Oh.” He stuttered, “Thank you. You didn’t have to do that.” Sarawat placed his hands on the freezer door on either side of Tine’s shoulders.

 

The other man grinned, “I know I didn’t have to. I wanted to. You’ve been working so hard lately.” Tine watched Sarawat scrunch up his nose and take a loud sniff.  The other man leaned his face into the crook of Tine’s neck, his nose brushing against the skin there. Tine’s hand clenched at his sides and he was pretty sure that he stopped breathing. Sarawat leaned back, his brows knitted and his mouth downturned, “You smell like food. Did you eat already?” Shit! He had forgotten to change his clothes, like he normally did. He hoped that Sarawat wouldn’t notice that too.

 

He shook his head, “Uh, no! Green was eating red curry and the smell must have just stuck on me.”

 

Sarawat slowly nodded, his face becoming more relaxed. “Ah.” One of his hands moved up from the freezer door and he stopped to slowly stroke Tine’s cheek with the back of his fingers. Tine let out an involuntary sigh at the touch. His body was extremely hot, but he couldn’t understand how when the fridge was open right behind him. Sarawat watched his face, “Your skin has been looking really clear lately.” His voice was soft as his eyes glanced down at Tine’s lips and then back up at Tine’s eyes.

 

Tine bit his bottom lip and squeaked out, “Um, yea it’s a new lotion I’ve been using. You can borrow it if you want.” Sarawat grinned.

 

“Thanks, I think I will.” With that he straightened up and walked over to the microwave, he glanced over at Tine, “Are you hungry now?” Tine made another squeaky sound and tilted his head forward before he ran off to the bathroom and hurriedly closed the door behind him. “I’ll take that as a yes. You left the fridge open!” He heard Sarawat say before the sound of the microwave went off. Tine leaned his back against the bathroom door. What the fuck was that? He looked down at the slight bulge in his pants. What the fuck is this? He covered his face with his hands and groaned. Come on think! It must have been the idea of the food that made him excited and the fact that he had almost been caught in his lie when Sarawat smelled him. That was it. That had to explain the issue in his pants. It was just too much adrenaline. It definitely wasn’t the fact that Sarawat had touched him. No. He moved towards the mirror and stared at himself for a long while. He was not into his fake husband. He did not have a crush on his roommate. They were just friends. Good friends. He sighed and closed his eyes. Tine rubbed the back of his neck slowly and pictured Sarawat touching him on that same spot.  He started remembering the feeling of Sarawat’s lips on his neck during the truth or dare game. His mouth parted and a small sigh fell from his lips. Tine’s eyes flew open in horror. Fuck.

 


Tine sat on the edge of the black couch in their condo, with Teddi curled up in the corner quietly watching him with her head on her paws. He had just given her a treat after their walk around the block for how good she had been that day. Despite being left alone everyday in the condo for the morning and afternoon, she seemed to be happy living there with Tine and Sarawat. Leaning towards his laptop on the coffee table, he stopped the Youtube video for what felt like the hundredth time as he strummed the guitar in his hands. His eyes squinted at the screen as he tried to emulate the exact hand positioning that the girl on the video had as she played the E minor chord. Tine’s tongue stuck out between his lips as he repositioned his fingers to play the chords he had secretly learned over the past few weeks whenever Sarawat wasn’t home from work. He was trying to learn how to play a song for Sarawat since his roommate dutifully played whatever song Tine had asked him to play, no matter how late or tired he was. Hearing the sweet melody from the guitar somehow always managed to soothe Tine, especially after stressful days at the office. So he wanted to surprise Sarawat with a song and hopefully make him feel as relaxed and happy as he did when he played for him. Tine felt that he must have been getting better because Teddi didn’t run away to the bedroom or cry as often when he played beside her.  Tine smiled to himself as he rewound the video and played along with the girl again. He was really killing this whole roommate thing. If there had been awards for the best roommate, he was pretty sure that a secret dinner and a guitar serenade would have won him one. He glanced at the time and immediately stuffed the guitar back into its case and propped it up against the couch the way it had been when Sarawat had last used it. His husband would be home within the next half of an hour and he didn’t want to risk him hearing Tine playing the guitar when he walked up to the door.

 

As he sunk back against the cushions, a memory floated through his mind of the first and last time that Sarawat had tried teaching Tine how to play the guitar. He laughed at the thought of it and remembered why he probably wouldn’t ask the other man to teach him again.

 

The last week before he was going to head off to Mahidol University in Bangkok, Tine had driven over to the Guntithanon’s to drop off a package from his dad to Sarawat’s father. He hadn’t intended to stay past handing over the item, but the sound of music coming from the backyard had drawn him there. Without hurrying, he walked around the perimeter of the house and into the back where he found Sarawat sitting with his back against the trunk of the large mango tree that Tine remembered being there for as long as he had been alive. The other boy had his eyes closed as he strummed out a song that Tine was unfamiliar with, but it oddly made something within him stir as he approached the other teen. He quietly padded through the grass and watched the other boy play and hum along with music. His eyes studied Sarawat. He hadn’t seen him in a year or two and Tine noticed that he looked much different. His hair had grown out and was lazily draped across one eye. His legs were much longer than he recalled and the muscles in his arms and legs were much more defined than they had been. Tine had been frustrated. How lucky Sarawat must have been to have immensely good looks and wealth to go along with it, especially since his personality and sense of humour were clearly lacking. He watched as Sarawat opened his eyes and stared openly at Tine from his spot. Tine smirked and clapped for the music.

 

Sarawat shook his hair out of his face and scowled, “I knew I sensed a troublemaker.”

 

Tine rolled his eyes and then stretched out his feet in the grass, “Oh, did you sense yourself then? Not much of a superpower you have.” Sarawat had raised a brow and partially opened his mouth displaying his very straight teeth. Tine narrowed his eyes and slightly tilted his head to the side, “Fuck Sarawat, did you get braces?”

 

“Yea. Two years ago.” Sarawat scoffed and continued to strum his guitar, “Why are you here?”

 

Tine leaned forward and rubbed at his calves, “I had to bring something for your dad from my dad.”

 

“Oh, you drive now?” Sarawat bent one of his knees up towards his chest.

 

Tine nodded, “Yea, I failed a few times but now I have my license and I have my own car.” He beamed proudly, “Want to see it?”

 

Sarawat squinted one eye, “No. I’m good.” Tine frowned feeling deflated. He was very proud of his car, the least Sarawat could have done was see it. “I hurt my leg. I’m resting it now.” Tine glanced down and noticed the bandage wrapped around the leg that was still stretched out.

 

“Oh.” Was all he could mutter, feeling bad for assuming Sarawat was just being an ass as usual. “Let me guess, soccer?”

 

Sarawat smirked, “Yep.”

 

“Are you going to be good to go to school next week with it being like that?” Tine eyed the leg.

 

“My school starts later. It’s in the states.” Sarawat looked at Tine from under his eyelashes. Tine’s eyebrows curved upwards.

“The United States?” Tine’s jaw dropped.

 

Sarawat grinned and pushed his hair back with his fingers, “Yea. That’s the one.”

 

Tine brought his knees to his chest, “Why are you going so far away? Aren’t you going to get homesick?”

 

“No. I need a change.” He shrugged, “I want to be normal.”

 

“Oh as opposed to being a complete dickhead?” Tine smiled.

 

Sarawat lips pursed, “That’s more your thing. But, no.  As opposed to being known by everyone.” He looked at his guitar, “I want to blend in.” Tine quietly nodded. He could kind of understand Sarawat’s point. Everyone knew who he was in Thailand, he had been a form of celebrity from the moment he could breathe. “I want to be a nobody. Like you Tine.”

 

“Asshole.” Tine threw a pebble at him and watched as the other boy gave a small laugh, showing off his new teeth. He glanced at the guitar, “What was the song that you were playing when I walked up?”

 

He could see a slight blush creep up Sarawat’s neck, “A song I wrote a long time ago.”

 

Tine licked his lips, “Oh yea? What’s it called?”

 

Sarawat paused for what seemed like a long time and then mumbled, “Blue Hawaii.” He averted his eyes and glanced at his feet. Tine began to laugh.

 

“That’s extremely random, but it is a damn good drink so I kind of get it. I’d name my first born Blue Hawaii if my wife let me.”

 

“You’re weird.” Sarawat furrowed his brows and strummed out another song. Tine’s smile began to grow and he began to hum along with the tune.

 

“That’s Close by Scrubb! I knew you liked the band!”

 

Sarawat shrugged, “They’re alright.”

 

Tine rolled his eyes, “They’re just alright, but you learned to play their song on the guitar? Denial, not just a river in Egypt my friend.”

 

Sarawat’s scoffed, “That’s corny.”

 

Tine stood up and stretched out his limbs before walking to sit closer to Sarawat. “Whatever you say, just admit that you love them and we can move on from here.” Sarawat watched him closely as he sat down beside him.

 

“I don’t love them.” Sarawat scrunched up his nose and turned his face to Tine.

 

“Then why did you learn to play that song?”

 

Sarawat’s flushed, “I know how to play all of their songs.” Tine stared at him in complete shock and utter bewilderment.

“So you don’t love them, but you learned all of their songs.” Tine said slowly and then laughed, “Why?”

 

“Because I was in love with someone who loved them. So I learned.” He turned to look at Tine. There was no humour in his face, just sincerity.

 

“Wow, she must have slept with you like a thousand times after that!” Tine declared. He watched as the other fingered the strings of the guitar.

 

“Nope.”

 

Tine laughed and smacked Sarawat on the shoulder, “Dude, if she didn’t fall for the guitar then you need to move on and find a girl who will die to have a guy learn all of her favourite music.” Sarawat sighed and glanced at Tine.

 

“Move on?” He stuck out his bottom lip in thought, “Yea. Maybe.” Tine stared at the guitar.

 

“Can you teach me to play Close? Maybe I can use it to pick some girls up in uni.”

 

Sarawat’s lips turned down at the corners as he muttered a quick, “No.”

 

Tine grabbed his arm, “Oh come on Sarawat! This could be the last time I see you for like four years. Just teach me a bit of it. I’m a really fast learner.” He watched as the other boy studied him. His gaze moving steadily over Tine before he reluctantly handed over his guitar. Tine whooped and held the instrument against his body, “Alright. Make me into a babe magnet.” He already felt that he was pretty adorable and he knew that tons of girls liked him, but those were girls and he was ready to meet some university women.

 

“Don’t talk. You’re making me regret this already.” Sarawat turned his body towards Tine and scooted closer to him so that his right shoulder was just behind Tine’s left. “Put your finger here.” He reached his hand out and repositioned Tine’s fingers on the neck of the guitar. “Press harder.” Tine followed the instructions and pressed against the strings. He could feel the heat of Sarawat’s breath against his cheek as the other teen instructed him, “Strum.” Tine strummed the guitar. “Wrong.” Tine narrowed his eyes and tried again. Sarawat sighed, “Wrong. Don’t move your fingers.” Tine frowned as Sarawat readjusted his fingers once again and he strummed. This time it sounded better. They looked at each other and Tine smiled, Sarawat nodded, “Better.”

 

They did this for half an hour more until Tine couldn’t take hearing one more ‘wrong’ from the other boy, “Here, just take it. The song is obviously too hard to learn.” He handed the guitar back to Sarawat, “And my fingers are tingling.” Tine truly hoped that Sarawat didn’t go into any form of teaching as he had the patience of a two year old child. His teachers in school hadn’t even been that harsh with him and he slacked off all the time. For a seventeen year old, Tine thought that Sarawat was creepily intense. He wished that the girl that Sarawat had learned the songs for had actually slept with him, maybe then he would have been a lot more relaxed.

 

Sarawat rubbed the base of his neck in annoyance, “You played four chords. Not the song.”

“Whatever, that was four chords too many. I’ll never play the guitar again. I’m pretty sure I’m traumatised.” He pushed off of the tree trunk and stood up. His hands brushed the grass off of his shorts. Sarawat slowly stood up as well, hopping on to his good foot.

 

“You never know. Maybe you’ll try again.”

 

Tine laughed right in Sarawat’s face, “When pigs fly maybe.” Playing the guitar was hard and he didn’t need it to pick up girls, he thought it just would have sped up the process.

 

Sarawat’s eyes sparkled, “If you say so.” They stared at each other for a moment until Tine stuck his hand out and Sarawat looked down at it in confusion.

 

“I’m off. It’s still pretty scorching out here and my new car has an AC that’s calling to me.” Sarawat took the other’s hand and awkwardly shook it.

 

“What seventeen year old shakes hands?” Sarawat’s eyes widened in amusement.

 

“I don’t know why I did it. It felt wrong the moment I put my hand out but then you shook it and it was too late.” Tine laughed and started moving towards the front of the house, he turned to look over his shoulder, “Have fun in the States. I hope you enjoy being a muggle like the rest of us. Just ordinary.”

 

Sarawat’s forehead wrinkled, “Shaking hands and now Harry Potter. Yikes. Hope you enjoy being a virgin.” He called out after Tine. Tine turned around, flipped him two middle fingers, and stuck out his tongue. Sarawat clutched his guitar and gave Tine a shy smile, “See you around.”

 

Tine waved him off, “Yea. I hope not!” Tine hadn’t known then that he wasn’t going to see Sarawat again for the next three years until his brother got married to Man. He definitely didn’t know that five years after that, he would be married to Sarawat himself.

 

He grabbed his phone from the table and noticed a message from the group chat he had with his friends. They were all supposed to go out and grab a few drinks that weekend and Tine was looking forward to it. Since the wedding he had tried to still see them every week, but found himself enjoying staying in with Sarawat and the dog watching bad movies. They called it Bad Movie Friday and Sarawat would download films that were given horrendous ratings then they would watch them, rate them, and then listen to a Podcast about the film. It sounded like a horrible time, but Tine really looked forward to spending those Friday’s together. He would usually try to push his friend meet ups to the Saturday evenings, but then he had signed up for his cooking classes. Now that Pear and Earn had declared that he had graduated, he no longer needed to sign up for anymore. They told him he was always welcomed to come back if he needed more help in the future. He told them that maybe he and Sarawat could do a couples cooking class. Even though they were just roommates, he thought it could still be fun.  It had been over a week since Tine had the bathroom situation and he had just figured that when you live with someone those things could happen. Plus he hadn’t been on a date with a woman for a few years and on top of that he hadn’t had time that morning to take ‘care of himself’ as he normally did. SO really it had all been a recipe for disaster, but he was happy that he could have narrowed the causes down and hadn’t had a similar incident since.

 

Tapping in his code, his phone opened up and he saw a slew of messages from his friends. Panicked he quickly opened the thread.

 

[Fong]

Tine who is the guy in the pictures with Sarawat?

Attachment: HotguywithWat.jpg

[Ohm]

Yea, my wife was asking me too. She said he looks like an actor. I said he looks like an asshole, but ye he’s pretty hot

[Phuak]

No I don’t think I’ve seen that dude in anything before

[Ohm]

Have you seen every movie out there?

[Phuak]

No you idiot, but I’ve seen enough to know that dude is not an actor. Look at his clothes

[Fong]

Phuak’s right, they look like work clothes

[Ohm]

Helloooooo earth to Tine, do you know who the guy is?

:p

8P

:O

[Fong]

Tabloids are blowing up man. They said Sarawat’s been seen with this guy already like three times this week

[Phuak]

Shit at night?

[Fong]

No during the day, but everyone wants to know who the guy is

[Ohm]

Could he be Sarawat’s ex?

[Fong]

Maybe? Oi Tine! What’s happening? Do we need to fight someone lol

 

Tine’s brows knitted together as he clicked on the picture and opened it. He studied the image of Sarawat sitting with a man in what looked like a cafe. It was the back of Sarawat’s head, but the man he was with was in full display of the cameras. Who the fuck is that? Tine felt his hands grow cold as he googled Sarawat’s name. More pictures of him with the man popped up with people asking each other in the comments if this was Sarawat’s new guy and they hoped so because he was extremely attractive. Well you can go to hell Suzy_1234. Sarawat had warned him to stay off of tabloid sites because they were always trying to spin a story and rarely focused on the truth. He had also explicitly told Tine not to look at the comments either, but here he was doing both. Did Sarawat tell him not to look at sites because he knew he was going to be caught with other men? Was he just trying to stop Tine from seeing the truth? Tine swallowed back the bile that was rising to the surface. What the fuck? He looked at the mystery guy again, zooming in on his face, and pressed his lips into a thin line. Was Sarawat cheating on him? His mind raced. No, he wouldn’t. Would he? Was it cheating? Could you cheat on a roommate? Tine’s hands shook as he clicked on another article and saw Sarawat grinning at the other man who was in turn beaming at him and tugging on the brim of Sarawat’s hat. Another picture showed the man hugging Sarawat, a content smile on the man’s face, and his eyes were closed. He hated this mysterious attractive man with the passion of a thousand hells. Tine squeezed his eyes shut and tried to take calming breaths. So what? Why did he care? Sarawat was just his friend. They were just in an agreement. That was it, nothing more. He bit his bottom lip to stop it from trembling and let out a long exhale as his vision clouded with unshed tears.

 

“Tine, what the hell is wrong with you?” He asked out loud as he wiped his eyes with the back of his hands. Ugh was he crying? Why the hell was he crying? Stupid. He went back to his friend’s conversation and did his best to text back as tears fell on to the screen. Shit. Shit. What’s happening? Allergies? Yea, maybe allergies. He sniffed and pressed send.

 

[Tine]

Sorry. Was busy. Dunno the guy. Probably just some friend. Not worried.

 

He wiped his eyes again and let out a small sob. Stop this. Stop it Tine. He groaned and leaned back against the couch. Why did he feel like throwing up? “This is so stupid.” He muttered under his breath as his face became hot and sticky from the crying. His phone vibrated, so he glanced at it.

 

[Fong]

Cool. Knew we had nothing to worry about. Wat loves you.

[Ohm]

Kk see you guys on Saturday

[Phuak]

I’m single and ready to mingle folks!

 

Tine frowned at the messages. He definitely didn’t want to do anything fun now. The sound of keys in the door caused him to jump up from the couch. He ran to the bedroom and closed the door before hopping into the bed. He rubbed his face into the pillow and turned his back to the door. He could hear Sarawat moving around in the living room and the sounds of Teddi’s nails against the hardwood floor. “Tine?” He heard Sarawat call out, but Tine stayed quiet, hoping that Sarawat would just think he was asleep. “Where’s your other dad?” Sarawat presumably asked the dog. Fresh tears began to fall from his eyes as confusion tormented him. What was wrong with him? Maybe, Sarawat was going to ask him to divorce earlier so that he could move in with the home wrecker. Whatever, that guy would never be as good a roommate as Tine.  Ugh Teddi was going to miss Sarawat when they moved out, he knew it. He curled up in the fetal position and pulled the blanket over his body. The sounds of heavy footsteps came towards the door. “Tine?” Sarawat said softly. Tine closed his eyes and tried to slow down his breathing. Play dead damn it! The sound of the door opened behind him and then closed. There was a heavy dip on the bed and he felt a cold hand press against his forehead. Shit. With a sigh, Tine rolled over on to his back and glanced at Sarawat. His face was creased with worry lines, “What’s wrong?”

 

Tine sniffed, “Don’t feel too good.” Sarawat frowned and moved his hand down from Tine’s forehead to cup his cheek. As if on reflex, Tine pressed his cheek against the hand. Sarawat stroked the soft skin with the pad of his thumb. Tine sighed. This feels good. I’ll miss this.

 

“Is it your stomach?”

 

Tine nodded and lied, “Yea.”

 

Sarawat’s brows knitted together. He leaned in and pressed a long kiss to Tine’s nose and then straightened up, making the other blush, “Okay, I’ll make you soup.” Tine shook his head.

 

“I’m not hungry.”

 

Sarawat sighed, “Are you sure? It’ll just be some broth.” He smirked, “You love my broth. You always beg me to make some.” Tine watched the other man’s face. He didn’t look like a cheater. Was he going to let him stay here for a bit longer? His lip began to tremble and tears fell from the sides of his eyes. Fuck, now he was crying in front of Sarawat. He brought his hands to his face in embarrassment. He felt firm arms wrap around him and pull him to sit up. Sarawat moved Tine’s head to rest against his shoulder.  “Tine, is it that bad? Let’s go to the hospital.”

 

Tine shook his head, “No, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I think I’m just really stressed about work and now my stomach is shit.” He mumbled into his hands before he pulled them down to his sides and moved his head into the crook of Sarawat’s neck. “I’m sorry. I’m just a mess.” Sarawat moved his hand up and down Tine’s spine.

 

“Yea, you are.” Sarawat’s voice vibrated against Tine’s face, “But you’re my mess.” Tine pulled back and looked into Sarawat’s face. They stared at each other wordlessly. Tine’s heart was beating fast. His stomach squeezed. His hands felt clammy. Sarawat reached up and wiped Tine’s tear’s with the end of his sleeve, before he brushed the hair out of his face. “I’m going to make you the broth okay?”

 

“Okay.” Tine’s voice shook as he spoke. Sarawat moved to stand up, but Tine grabbed his arm. Sarawat turned to look at him. Tine looked down at the hand holding the arm and he nervously bit his lip. What was he doing? He looked up into Sarawat’s eyes, “Sarawat.”

 

Sarawat blinked, “Yea?”

 

Tine took a deep breath, “Who is the really hot guy you’ve been having lunch with?” He watched as Sarawat’s eyebrows moved up and his mouth quirked into a grin.

 

“Ah. You saw the pictures?” He rolled his eyes, “That’s my co-worker. He’s a nice guy.” He smiled and pat Tine’s head. “Why?” Tine shrugged and leaned back into the bed. Was Sarawat telling the truth? Did he get worked up all over nothing?

 

“The guys were asking me about him.” Tine explained. It wasn’t quite the whole truth, but it was a part of it. Sarawat exhaled loudly causing Tine to look at him. “What?”

 

He watched Tine for a moment before he spoke, “I hope you know that I would never do anything to jeopardize our situation.” He held Tine’s hands with both of his, “You trust me right?”

 

Tine shrugged, “I don’t blame you if you want to date someone Sarawat. We’re just roommates really. You don’t owe me anything. I just don’t want my family to be embarrassed, that’s it. That’s all I care about.”

 

Sarawat dropped Tine’s hands and a look crossed his face that Tine couldn’t quite tell what it was, “Do you want me to see someone else?” Sarawat asked.

 

“No.” Tine said quickly. Maybe a bit too quickly. “I mean. You can’t right now obviously. But if that’s what you want to do when we get divorced then fine.”

 

The other man stood up and averted his eyes, “Fine. I’ll keep that in mind.” He turned towards the door.

 

“How come you hugged that guy?” Tine blurted out. Why did he say that? He didn’t care. Right?

 

Sarawat turned his head, “What?”

 

Tine nibbled on his lip, “In one of the pictures, you were hugging that dude.”

 

Sarawat wrinkled his nose and rubbed his chin, “Oh? He must have hugged me. I’m not sure. Were my arms around him?” He wrinkled an eyebrow. Tine thought about the picture and he could recall that Sarawat’s arms were down by his sides while the other man leeched on to him.

 

“No. They weren’t.” Tine scratched the side of his cheek, feeling slightly foolish.

 

“Yea, I don’t hug people who aren’t extremely important to me.” His shoulders raised and fell.

 

Tine slowly nodded and then asked, “Is that why you don’t hug me?” Sarawat laughed and rubbed the back of his neck. Tine grimaced, “What? Why’s that funny?”

 

“Tine,” Sarawat started as his eyes softened, “I always want to hug you. I just don’t want you to feel uncomfortable if I do. So I don’t.”

 

“Oh,” Tine watched him for a moment before sliding across the bed towards the door. He stood up and faced Sarawat. Sarawat angled his body towards Tine, “Can we hug now?” Tine asked sheepishly.

 

Sarawat cracked a smile and immediately pushed his hands under Tine’s arms and pressed their torso’s flush against each other. Tine closed his eyes and wrapped his arms tightly around Sarawat’s shoulders.

Sarawat spoke softly into Tine’s hair, “You never have to ask me for a hug. Take them whenever you want.” Tine could feel Sarawat’s heart beating quickly against his chest so he was sure that Sarawat could feel how fast his was beating too. He took a deep inhale and could smell Sarawat’s shampoo, it smelled like apples and cinnamon. “Are you sniffing my hair weirdo?” Sarawat laughed and Tine’s eyes widened.

 

“No shut up. Just hug me. Don’t ruin the moment.” He felt so much better hugging Sarawat. “We should do this like every day.” Tine smiled.

 

He could feel Sarawat’s arms tighten more securely around him as they embraced each other. “Sure, but I’m going to be gone for a week.”

 

Tine jerked back and looked into Sarawat’s face, “What. No. Why?”

 

“Yea, I have a conference to go to in the States.”

 

Tine’s arms fell to his sides and Sarawat let him go, “The United States?” Tine questioned.

 

Sarawat grinned, “Yea. That’s the one.”

 

Tine scowled, “When?”

 

“Next week. I found out today.” Tine folded his arms over his chest as Sarawat continued to speak, “I checked in on your dad’s store today. Things are going well and I dropped off a bit more money for him just in case, which he reluctantly accepted.” Tine was beyond grateful that Sarawat continued to take care of his family, but he was still having trouble understanding why Sarawat was going away. He honestly felt like he had whiplash from all of his different emotions.

 

Tine plopped down on to the bed and looked up at Sarawat. “Thanks, but do you have to go?”

 

Sarawat nodded, “Yea I do. But I’ll face time you and Teddi every day before you go to work in the morning.”

 

Tine stared at the other man, “Is that hot co worker going to be there too?” Sarawat looked to the side. Tine shook his head and pouted, “Oh, so he is going to be there.”

 

Sarawat cocked his head, “Is that going to be a problem?” Tine blinked quickly and forced a quick cackle. “You trust me right?”

 

“What no. I don’t care. I was just curious.” Tine forced another laugh as he pushed the fear down into his body. He definitely did care and he hated it, “Of course I trust you, what a stupid question.” He cleared his throat, “All this talking has made me hungry. Can you make spaghetti tonight?” Sarawat grinned.

 

“Is your stomach good now?”

 

Tine stood up and patted his stomach, “Yep! I’ll make the noodles if you make the sauce.”

 

“Alright nuisance, let’s go cook.” Sarawat opened the door and stepped out into the rest of the condo. Tine hung back in the room and stared after him. His lips pulled down into a frown. He was going to miss the other man. A lot. What was he going to do without him for a week? Who was he going to talk to? Cuddle with? Eat dinner with? Spend time with? Joke around with? Feel this happy with? The last time he had ever felt this way was when he was chasing after a girl named Wan back in his undergrad, he had been so in lov--. His stomach dropped as a chill ran down his spine. The truth that he had been hiding from himself finally sprung free and reared its ugly head. Oh no. His jaw became slack. Shit. Moving closer to the bedroom door he watched the other man bend down and pet their dog. Tine spread his fingers and placed his hand on his chest, his heart beating against it like a drum.  Tine glanced down at the floor and then looked back up. He was completely and utterly in love with his husband.

Chapter Text

Chapter Nine: Truth is, I Miss You

 

The television speakers blared loudly as horribly edited police car chases and robots shooting guns darted comically across the screen. Tine watched Sarawat carefully from the corner of his eyes as his attention on the film continued to diminish. It was their Bad Movie Friday, which he usually loved, but today he was barely watching as his attention maintained on the man beside him. Sarawat chewed slowly on the popcorn in his mouth as his eyes squeezed shut from his laughter, little snickers sounded from his partially opened lips. “These robots look like Roomba’s with guns.” He shook his head as he continued to watch. Tine smiled shyly at him and continued to watch the other. He didn’t even bother to pretend that he was watching the disastrous film anymore. A dreamy look crossed his face and he sighed. How had he never noticed the way Sarawat’s eyes crinkled up at the corners when he was amused or how his eyes sparkled like diamonds whenever he laughed?

 

Ever since Tine had come to the realisation that he in fact had a thing for his husband, he had been watching him closely and making mental notes to see if Sarawat may have also been into him too. Tine continuously wrestled with the idea that he was in love with the other man. He had only been in love with one other person in his entire life and that situation had ended horribly for him. Being vulnerable a second time with someone who he would have never ever pictured falling in love with was even scarier than before, so he thought it was best to just pretend that his feelings right now was just a really intense crush. He would need to put the idea of love on the backburner, just until he could get some confirmation that Sarawat maybe, sort of, liked him too. If he didn’t like him, it would be much easier to get over a crush than to be absolutely heartbroken and Tine really didn’t think he could handle that type of rejection right now. Especially from someone he had committed to being married to and living with for almost six more months. Tine’s heart was in a constant state of flux, he needed to find out if Sarawat liked him and he needed to find out soon. He couldn’t handle being in limbo anymore.

 

After much contemplation, Tine had eventually decided to conduct a few seductive experiments before Sarawat left to go on his trip to the US. He needed to know if he should have been worried about Sarawat’s attractive co-worker Oak, the miscreant that the tabloids were still speculating about since the pictures were released almost a week ago. His first experiment tried to focus on whether or not Sarawat found him physically attractive. This was why Tine had come out of the bathroom the other day wearing nothing but a thin white towel wrapped securely around his waist. He had observed and noted that Sarawat’s eyes had immediately bugged out of his head as he stared at him. The man’s gaze had travelled slowly along the length of Tine’s torso and had surprisingly fixated on a spot near his chest. Tine had felt so nervous under the attention that he had immediately run back into the room and put his clothes on. Even though he had quickly retreated, Sarawat’s reaction had proven to Tine that the other man may have found him attractive. Another experiment he used was sitting down on Sarawat’s lap as he playfully pouted and asked the other man if he thought that he was getting fat. Without even a moment’s hesitation Sarawat had said yes and gently slid Tine off of him before hopping up and running off to the bathroom. That experiment had been a bust for sure. It was clearly a bad sign to try to get close to someone and have them scurry away from you. His last attempt had been offering Sarawat a massage where he tried to see if his husband would get into the mood with his touches, but the second he touched him, the other man’s head flopped forward, and soft snoring had escaped his mouth instead. It was another dead end for Tine. Two out of three of his experiments had failed and he was even more convinced that his fake husband didn’t see him as anything more than a friend.

 

Now he sat on the other side of the couch from Sarawat and just watched him. He could feel the distinct sensation of fluttering in his stomach every time that the other man laughed or smiled. The urge to reach out and touch him or hold his hand was slightly overwhelming. He knew that Sarawat had said he could hug him whenever he wanted, but he still felt shy about it.

 

As if he could hear Tine’s thoughts, Sarawat turned to look at him and Tine immediately refocused his attention back on the screen. He had no idea what the hell was happening, but he did his best to look amused. “Are you okay?” Sarawat asked as he paused the film on the screen, “You haven’t laughed once.” Tine swallowed and glanced at him. Shit, he noticed.

 

“Yea, I’m just distracted about tomorrow.” This was partly the truth, but he didn’t want to let Sarawat in on his innermost thoughts just yet. Sarawat scooted over to Tine and grinned.

 

“I’ll be back. It’s just for a week.”

 

Tine nodded, “Yea, I know, but who’s going to cook? What if there’s a fire? What if there’s a burglar?” He gasped and turned to look at the other, “What if there’s a gas leak? What if you just don’t come back?”

 

Sarawat cracked a smile, “Well you can order take out, if there’s a fire then get the hell out of here, and if there’s a burglar sic Teddi on him or call the security guard from downstairs.” Then he frowned, “If there’s a gas leak, you’d probably be dead, so let’s hope that one doesn’t happen okay?” He took Tine’s hands in his own, sending a shiver up Tine’s spine and gave him goose bumps. “Don’t be dumb, you know I’ll be back to bother you in no time.”

 

Tine scoffed, “How am I dumb? These things can actually happen.”

 

“Yea, but how is me being here going to stop them from happening? I know I look like a god, but I’m not actually one.” Sarawat smirked and Tine pulled his hands away as he tried to hide his smile.

 

“You’re so modest, how do you do it?”

 

Sarawat shrugged, “I don’t know. I guess I was just born amazing. It’s really one of life’s mysteries.” Tine rolled his eyes so hard that he was pretty sure he saw the back of his skull for the first time. He still couldn’t help but to crack a smile at the other man. Ugh he’s so annoying, but annoyingly cute? Is that possible? “Like I said, I’ll call you every day before you go to work.” Sarawat reached out and gently smoothed down the side of Tine’s hair, “That way you won’t miss me too much.” Tine smacked the hand that was against his head.

 

“Who’s going to miss you? Teddi?” He scoffed.

 

“Oh?” Sarawat frowned, “Okay, I’ll just call Teddi then.” He slid back over to his corner of the couch and pressed play on the remote. Tine looked at the other man in disbelief. Was Sarawat actually upset? Or was he just playing around?

 

“Sarawat?” Tine called out. The other man raised a brow and stuffed more popcorn into his mouth as his eyes stayed glued to the screen. Tine noticed that Sarawat pointedly increased the volume on the television. “Wat.” Tine tried again and watched as Sarawat obnoxiously laughed at a scene with robotic spiders that shot out acid, then caught on fire. “Yo Saraleo!” Tine reached over and grabbed the remote and paused the scene. He stared at Sarawat, who was still averting his gaze from him. Sighing, Tine got up and plunked himself on the coffee table right in front of him. Sarawat childishly looked to the side as he continued to chew the popcorn in his mouth. “Look at me.” Tine commanded. After a long pause, the other man slowly let his eyes drift over to Tine. “You’re such a baby, has anyone ever told you that?”

 

Sarawat pursed his lips, “You wanted me to look at you so you could insult me?”

 

“No, I wanted you to look at me so you can see my face when I say these next few words to you.” Tine took a long deep inhale and held it, “I might miss your annoying face when you’re gone.” The words tumbled out of his mouth quickly and were slightly mumbled but he figured that Sarawat must have gotten the point because he gave Tine a small smile.

 

“Really? You might miss me?” He chuckled, “I’ll take it.”

 

Tine nibbled on his bottom lip and looked down at his knees, “Yea.” He could feel the warmth of Sarawat’s hand cupping his cheek, his fingertips gently stroking the smooth skin there. His cheeks were getting warmer, so he chose not to look up. He refused to give Sarawat the satisfaction of seeing him blush again.

 

“I might miss you too nuisance.” Sarawat admitted as he continued to stroke Tine’s cheek. “But, I won’t miss your snoring. Sounds like a chainsaw against scrap metal. ”

 

Tine’s brows knitted together and the corners of his lips turned down, “You are such an ass.” He laughed and shook his head. “I’m just going to ignore the insult and focus on the nicer part of your message. Oh and good luck getting to the airport tomorrow you dickhead.” He got up from the table and plopped himself right beside Sarawat on the couch.

 

“That’s fine. I’ll just create a Twitter account and tag Team Sarawat’s Wives for a ride.” Sarawat chewed thoughtfully on another piece of popcorn, “I’m sure someone will accept.” Tine gasped, grabbed some popcorn from the bowl, and proceeded to toss them one at a time at Sarawat’s head. “Hey!” Sarawat chuckled and put his hand up as a shield from the onslaught of buttery treats. “Tine stop!” He attempted to catch some of the pieces in his mouth, but most of them simply ricocheted off of his lips.

 

Tine cackled as he grabbed more from the bowl, “Sorry what was that? Throw more you said? Get one in your nose? That’s dirty, but okay whatever you want!” He threw a few more before Sarawat caught his wrist as he was mid throw and playfully shook it so that Tine dropped what was left in his hand. Sarawat’s brow quirked up as he studied Tine’s hand and slowly brought Tine’s index finger towards his lips. Tine tried to pull it back thinking that the other man had the intention of biting him. “Hey!” He panicked.

 

“Relax.” Sarawat’s voice was breathy as his eyes moved from Tine’s fingers to Tine’s face. Mesmerised, Tine allowed his hand to be brought to Sarawat’s mouth without any resisting. The other man continued to study him as he sucked the tip of the index finger into his mouth and swirled his tongue around the digit, licking at the butter and salt that coated it. Tine’s pulse began to race and his mouth partially parted as he watched the other man leisurely lick at his finger like a lollipop. He swallowed hard at the sight and did his best not to lose his mind as he heard Sarawat’s breathing quicken with every lick. Oh my god. Biting down hard on his tongue and accidentally piercing the sensitive muscle. Tine visually winced and scrunched up his face in pain as a salty metallic taste filled his mouth. Shit, that hurt. Sarawat’s licks immediately stopped and he quickly removed the finger from his mouth before he carefully put Tine’s hand back down in its owners lap. Wait, what happened? Tine’s forehead puckered as he watched Sarawat look away from him.

 

Sarawat’s shoulders sagged before he cleared his throat and put the bowl of popcorn on the table in front of them, “I have to finish packing. You can finish the movie.” He stood up and quickly walked to their bedroom leaving Tine sitting there in utter confusion. Did he do something wrong? Did Sarawat get disgusted by him? He stared in the direction the other man had gone off to before turning his body towards the television. He hunched his shoulders and pressed his back hard against the couch, his chin trembling as he realised that he had romantic feelings for his husband, but his husband clearly didn’t feel the same for him. Pressing play on the remote, he pulled his knees up and hugged them to his chest as the killer robots on the screen continued to make a mess of everything that they touched.

 

The next morning, they had pretended as if nothing had happened, but Tine couldn’t shake the heavy feeling of disappointment and sadness as he gave Sarawat a tight hug goodbye at the airport. He was a bundle of emotions and he wasn’t quite sure how to handle them. Sarawat had placed a familiar kiss to his cheek and had hustled away to the security checks leaving Tine feeling lost behind him. What was he going to do? Should he push harder? Or just try to go back to the way it was before? Sighing, he had turned on his heel and headed home to spend time with his dog.

 

With Teddi by his side, Tine moped around the entire weekend with nothing but the silence and his thoughts encompassing him. His eyes periodically glanced at his phone throughout the day as he anxiously waited for Sarawat to call him. It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon that his phone finally rang. He sprung up and fumbled to unlock his phone. Sarawat’s face looked back at him as he finally managed to connect the face time. Tine could see the dark circles under the other man’s eyes and noticed his eyes were also slightly red.

 

“Hey. You look horrible.” Tine smirked, “I should take a screenshot and show the world your true face.”

 

Sarawat offered him a tired smile and then yawned loudly, “Shut up. I didn’t sleep.”

 

Tine frowned, “You didn’t sleep the whole seventeen hours?! Why not?”

 

“There was a crying baby across from us, so no one slept.” He lightly chuckled, “I think I might have fallen asleep for ten minutes while watching a movie. There was a girl running from a ghost and then next thing I knew the movie was done.”

 

“Wait so you don’t know how it ended?” Tine asked with a small giggle. Sarawat shook his head.

 

“Nope and I don’t even remember the name of the movie, so I’ll never know.” He shrugged and then yawned again, “Just wanted to tell you I was okay. I’m going to go to bed. It’s like four in the morning here.” Tine frowned, he knew that there was a time difference and that Sarawat was tired but he had also really wanted to discuss what had happened the other day. Sighing, he forced a smile.

 

“Okay. Thanks for calling. Sweet dreams.”

 

Sarawat gave a quick two finger wave, “I’ll call you tomorrow.” With that he disconnected the call and Tine sat staring at the phone in his hand. He was relieved that the other man was okay, but he wished that they could have spoken more.  Maybe it was a sign that he shouldn’t say anything about it until Sarawat came back. Teddi put her head on his lap and Tine absentmindedly pet her as his thoughts consumed him once again.

 

As his alarm roared to life at six the next morning, Tine rushed into the guest bedroom and turned it off. Without Sarawat being there, he didn’t feel comfortable sleeping alone in the master bedroom so he had moved his things back to his original room. In spite of having done that he still hadn’t slept well the night before and had been awake since four. Needing a distraction from his turmoil, he decided to head into work early that morning instead of waiting until his usual time. He wasn’t sure if Sarawat was still going to call him, but he figured that he could grab the call at the office in the event that he did.

 

Tine walked into his office and only found two other lawyers there and Green. Green jumped up from his seat in excitement and hurried over to Tine, “Tinnne! You’re here so early today.” Tine dropped his satchel under his desk and plunked down into his office chair. He watched as Green studied his face, “Oh, you don’t look too good. Are you sick?”

 

He shook his head and pulled his laptop out of his bag, not really wanting to talk to anyone at the moment, “No, just didn’t sleep too well last night.” He glanced up at Green and offered him a small smile, “How are you doing?” Tine wanted to change the topic and hoped for one of Green’s ramblings to distract him. Green watched him carefully and frowned.

 

“No, don’t do that. You’re not going to distract me Mr. Teepakorn, I know something is wrong.” Green gave him a disapproving finger wag. Tine sighed and opened his laptop, starting it up for the day. “Did you and the hubby have a fight?”

 

“No, he had to go away for work.” Tine rubbed his eye and typed in his password on the computer. He truly didn’t want to talk about Sarawat at the moment. That was the whole reason why he had forfeited two extra hours of sleep that morning to come into work. He needed to be distracted, not reminded.

 

Green nodded slowly, “Oh, I get it now.” Tine’s tired eyes slightly widened as he looked at the paralegal, “Every time Dim goes to sleep over at his friends place, I can never sleep properly through the night. There’s something about having someone cuddled up beside you and then when that’s gone, it just feels weird.” Green pat Tine’s shoulder and gave him a knowing glance, “Sometimes I just spray his pillow with his cologne and cuddle with that. It helps a lot. Maybe you can try that.” He stared at his screen and then looked up at Green. That wasn’t a really bad idea.

 

“I didn’t think of that. Thanks Green I’ll try it tonight.”

 

Green beamed and winked, “Anytime, I can give you advice about a lot of things if you need it.” Green moved to go back to his seat, but stopped mid-way, “Oh, heads up. A new lawyer starts in a few days.” Tine’s eyebrows curved upwards, Green put his hand out, “Before you ask me, no I don’t know her name, but I did hear she went to the same university as you. I think she was one of your classmates.”

 

Tine frowned, “You heard all of that, but didn’t get her name?”

 

Green grinned, “I only focus on the important details Tine!”

 

“Well as a paralegal, I hope that you consider names extremely important when you’re writing up documents for me.”

 

“You’re so silly, do you want some coffee?” Green laughed and placed his hands on his hips.

 

Tine nodded, “Thanks Green.” The other man smiled at him and walked off towards their lunch room. Tine watched him as he went, Green could be much at times, but overall he was a really good friend. His phone began to vibrate in his pocket. He pulled it out and grinned as he accepted the face time request.

 

Sarawat was lying in bed with his glasses on and from what it seemed like, he was shirtless. “Hey Wat.” Tine slightly bounced in his chair in excitement as he looked at the other man.

 

Sarawat smiled, showing off the retainer that Tine just couldn’t get enough of, “Hey.” He could see Sarawat’s eyes squinting as he looked at Tine. “Where are you?”

 

“Oh, I went to work early.” Tine shrugged and slightly averted his eyes.

 

“Why?” Sarawat frowned and moved to sit up so that his back was against the headboard of the bed.

 

“Didn’t sleep well, so I just decided to go into work early.”

 

“Ah. Are you okay? You look off.” Tine was about to nod, but then paused and simply stared at the phone. “Tine, I think you froze,” Sarawat stated. Tine shook his head and sighed.

 

“No, it didn’t. Um,” He sucked his top lip in between his teeth before he spoke again, “I’m not okay.”

 

“What’s wrong?” Sarawat brought the phone closer to his face and cocked his head to the side.

 

Tine breathed out, “I miss you so much and it’s only been two days.” There was no joke in there. No sarcasm. He had said what was really in his heart.

 

Sarawat’s eyes widened and Tine watched as the other man beamed at him, “You do?” Tine slightly tilted his head forward as Sarawat continued to smile, “You don’t know how happy that makes me.” Sarawat confessed, “I really miss you too.” Tine covered his cheek with his hand to cover his blushing. He did? If Sarawat didn’t care about him then would he have missed him? And he’s happy that Tine missed him too? Tine grinned and his heart beat a little faster. This was the first glimmer of hope he had since Sarawat had left.

 

“Tinnnne I have your coffee.” Green walked towards him with two cups in his hands.

 

He carefully handed the coffee cup to Tine. Tine looked up from the phone and took the hot drink from Green with his free hand, “Thanks.” He smiled appreciatively at his paralegal.

 

“Who is that?” Sarawat asked.

 

“Oh my god, is that SARAWAT?!” Green squealed and ran behind Tine to see the other man. He waved at Sarawat and Sarawat waved back at him. “Hey Sarawat, you look like Clark Kent with those glasses on. So handsome and intelligent looking.” He fanned himself, “I can see why Tine couldn’t sleep last night without you.” Tine flushed and turned the phone away so that Green couldn’t see Sarawat anymore, which meant Tine couldn’t see him either.

 

“Uh, thanks Green. Oh really? Tell me more,” Sarawat teased. Tine could hear him chuckling on the other side of the phone. Damn it Green! Ugh, had he known that the price of the coffee was his dignity he would have declined. Tine stared pointedly at Green and motioned his hand to shoo the other away. Green gave him the peace sign and scurried off. 

 

Tine turned the screen to face him once again and smiled sheepishly, “Green suddenly had to go and work on some documents, so he’s gone now.”

 

Sarawat nodded, but continued to smirk at the camera, “Ah, is that so?”

 

Tine nibbled on his lip, “Yep. So show me your hotel room, I’m curious about what it looks like.” He also wanted to make sure no attractive men named Oak were hiding around in the shadows.

 

“Sure.” He watched as Sarawat moved from the bed, the phone slightly moving down to his bare chest. Tine gave a small wheeze as his eyes took in the toned muscle. He really needed to join Sarawat in the gym from now on. “What?” Sarawat asked as he brought the phone back by his face.

 

Tine coughed, “Nothing. Just choked on this damn coffee.”

 

“Ah, okay. So this is the bedroom.” He switched the camera on his phone so that Tine could no longer see his face but the room. Tine peered at the screen and made sure that he didn’t see any suspicious movement.

 

“Show me the other side of the bed.”

 

He could hear Sarawat chuckle, “Uh, why?”

 

Tine rubbed the back of his neck, “I love hotel rooms, so I just want you to be super thorough with it. I want to live vicariously through you.”

 

“So weird,” Sarawat proclaimed. He watched as Sarawat moved the phone to the other side of the bed and showed him that no one was there on the floor. Tine sighed a breath of relief, “Is that enough floor action for you?”

 

“Yep, now show me the closet and the bathroom. Make sure to pull back the shower curtain, you know I’m a real sucker for the tiles.”

 

The camera switched to Sarawat’s face again. His eyebrow was arched and his mouth was slightly parted, “You’re normally pretty weird. But tonight you’re acting weirder.” He smirked, “You looking for something nuisance?”

 

Tine tried to school his features into indifference, “You got me.” He swallowed and averted his eyes, “I have a hotel room fetish, and I can’t help myself.” He heard Sarawat giggle and looked back at the screen to see the other man cocking his head to the side as he watched Tine.

 

“You are so cute. And so jealous.”

 

Tine scoffed and rolled his eyes, “Jealous?! Jealous of what?!”

 

Sarawat shook his head, “Oak’s not in here. But if you want me to show you the closet, the shower, behind the window curtains, or under the bed to make you feel better I can do that for you.”

 

“Under the bed? Could he really fit under there?” Tine frowned. How flexible was that attractive co-worker of his. How was he supposed to beat that? He could barely lift his leg to his head.

 

Sarawat snickered, “No you idiot, how skinny do you think he is?”

 

“I knew that. Whatever, I’m not jealous and I don’t care about stupid what’s his face.”

 

“His name’s Oak and he’s a nice guy. I told him all about my insane husband who blushes all the time.”

 

Tine’s eyes widened in fear, “No, don’t tell him that! He’s going to think I’m weak and make his move.”

 

“He can make all the moves he wants. But I’m here to stay little Buffalo. Like it or not.” He watched as Sarawat plunked back down on to the bed. “Even if you’re feisty when you’re jealous, I’ll still be here.”

 

“I’m not jealous. Maybe you’re jealous.” Tine shot back. Good job, really mature. That must have stung him real bad.

 

“I never get jealous.” Sarawat disagreed. Tine gave him an incredulous stare.

 

“Oh, so now we’re lying to each other? Is that what we’re doing?” He smiled at the other man as he leaned back in his chair. From the corner of his eyes he could see more of his co-workers trickling in, so he’d have to end their call in a second. Tine could see a small smile on Sarawat’s face.

 

“I could never lie to you Tine. You’d see right through me if I tried.”

 

Tine beamed proudly and insisted, “Damn right I would. That’s how I know you definitely get jealous.” Sarawat adjusted his glasses and brought his hand up to rub the side of his neck.

 

“Maybe, but not usually. I’d have to really be into someone.” He reflected and then gave a small yawn. “Alright little Buffalo, I need to sleep. Jet lag is literally killing me.”

 

Tine pouted, he didn’t want them to stop talking. “Okay. You’ll call me tonight right?” Sarawat tilted his head forward to say yes.

 

“Of course. I have to say goodnight to my favourite girl,” Tine frowned. He appreciated the sentiment towards Teddi, but he wouldn’t mind some of the love too, “and to my favourite guy.” Sarawat finished his statement leaving Tine in awe.

 

Tine blushed and ducked his head so that Sarawat couldn’t see his face in the camera, “Okay. Got to go now, bye.” Tine hung up the phone and put it face down on the desk. He shook his head at how embarrassed he had been, but he felt like a weight had been lifted off of his chest. Smiling broadly and tapping his fingers against his desk, he knew that today was going to be a really good day.

 

After two days of endless flirty video calls had passed and even though they hadn’t explicitly admitted anything to each other, Tine felt a lot more confident that Sarawat might have considered him as more than a roommate. He was so excited at the prospect of their relationship getting to a new level that he ran out after work Tuesday night and had bought all the ingredients which he would need for the surprise dinner he had planned for Sarawat when he came in Saturday night. He hoped that the other man wouldn’t be too tired to eat.

 

Having had a good call with Sarawat that Wednesday morning, Tine skipped excitedly into work while whistling a happy tune. Everyone stared at him as he walked by, unsure of what had brought this new attitude on. Tine plopped down into his chair and spun around happily before noticing the woman who was leaning against a wall near his desk, staring at him. She had blunt cut bangs across her forehead, her hair was pulled back into a loose bun, and she wore a form fitted light grey suit with a pair of black pumps. He clutched his chest in shock and then burst out laughing.

 

“Air?!” He jumped out of the chair and quickly walked towards her. She threw herself in his arms and they gave each other a big warm hug. “What the hell? I thought you moved to Australia or something.” He pulled back and looked at her, slightly in disbelief. Air had been one of his classmates in his law program. He had been extremely fond of her, but their relationship never progressed beyond friendship. While they were in university, she continued to date the same guy she had been with since high school. Then he had moved to Australia to work after he finished his undergrad.

 

Last Tine had heard from her, she had decided to pick up and move there to be with him. He looked her over and smiled at how little she had changed over the past four years. She laughed, “Yea I did and I got married!” She put her left hand up for Tine to see. He took it in his hand and looked at the ring. “Nice right?” She teased.

 

Tine shrugged and then stuck his own left hand out, “It’s okay, but it’s not as nice as mine!” He wiggled his gold band at her. She shrieked and grabbed his hand, almost toppling him over.

 

“Shut up! I heard you got married, but I didn’t believe it.” She twisted the ring around his finger. Tine frowned.

 

“Why not?”

 

Air scoffed, “Because you were chasing every girl that crossed your path, not once did I ever hear you talk about chasing a guy. So to hear you got married to one of the wealthiest men in the country threw me for a loop.” She smirked, “My friends thought he was your sugar daddy or something.”

 

“What?! We’re the same age! How can he be my sugar daddy?” Tine whined, Air shook her head and placed her hand on his shoulder. Was that what people really thought of him? That he was some gold digger? He could see where people would get that, but it was a bit upsetting.

 

“Don’t worry I defended you tooth and nail. I told those idiots that you were the hardest working student in the class. You had to study through the day and then you worked those two jobs.” She sighed, “You were not the kind of guy to take hand outs from anyone and I made sure that they knew that.” Tine offered her a shy smile.

 

“Thanks Air.” She nodded. He wrinkled his nose, “Wait, but why are you here?”

 

“I got hired to work here!” She clapped excitedly, “I didn’t finish my story, I got married and we have a daughter now, so we moved back to be close to our parents. We wanted them to be able to spend time with her.”

 

“A real kid?!” Tine exclaimed.

 

Air’s brows knitted together, “No, we just uprooted our whole life for a doll.” She playfully smacked him and laughed, “Yes a real kid you idiot.” Tine smiled at her and sat on the edge of his desk. He couldn’t believe that the pig tailed girl he remembered from school was now someone’s mother.

 

“Wow, that’s so cool. You’re the only friend I have who has a kid,” Air nodded and sat beside him.

 

“I know, I’m the only one in my friend group with a kid so it’s a bit weird. Most of my friends still go out to bars every night and get wasted.”

 

Tine laughed, “Do you remember my friend Ohm? I think you met him like once or twice when we went out drinking.”

 

Air tilted her head to the side. “Yea I think I do, is he the one who could like find info on anyone on the internet?” Tine nodded, “Then yea I do.”

 

Tine gave her a lopsided grin, “He’s married now.”

 

The woman hopped up from the desk and stared at him, “That dude got married?! Wait is Fong married too?”

 

Tine snickered, “No, he’s actually single.”

 

Air smiled, “I can’t believe Ohm got married before Fong. If I had been single I would have hit on that guy so fast.” Tine choked on his saliva and coughed, Air reached out and hit him on the back.

 

“Fong?! You had a thing for Fong?!” He stammered.

 

She bit her lip, “I wouldn’t say it was a thing I just thought he was extremely cute and that boy had some good advice.” Tine nodded.

 

“My friends may not be the brightest, but Fong definitely pulls ahead of the rest.” His eyes flashed and he giggled, “I’m happy that we’re going to be working together. I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.” The phone in his pocket began to vibrate. He pulled it out and smiled. He looked up at Air, “It’s my husband,” He informed sheepishly and Air’s eyes widened in excitement. Tine answered the call and could see that Sarawat was wearing a suit and was sitting in what seemed like a busy lobby, with his air pods in his ears. “Hey Wat, what’s up?”

 

Sarawat smiled at the phone, “Nothing. Just had a few minutes before drinks and wanted to see you again.” Tine flushed.  Sarawat had told him in their earlier call that he and his co-workers were meeting up at the hotel bar to have drinks after dinner. Tine wasn’t too thrilled to find out that the good looking colleague of his would be joining them, but he trusted Sarawat not to be swayed by the other man.

 

“Oh.” Tine nervously mumbled and looked down at his feet. Even from the other side of the phone Sarawat always made him feel extremely shy.

 

“That’s so cute.” He heard Air breathe out in front of him. He looked up at her and mouthed ‘shut up.’ She wiggled her eyebrows and giggled which made Tine giggle. “Your face is so red Tine, I’m going to take a picture of it to show you,” She snorted out as she continued to watch him and fumbled with her phone to take a picture of him. Tine laughed harder at the snort.

 

“You’re the worst. Don’t you dare.” Tine managed to say through his laughter as he put his hand up to block her from snapping any pictures.

 

“Tine?” Sarawat’s eyebrows lowered and his mouth pressed into a line, “What’s happening?”

 

“Uh, I’m just here with my new co-worker who is harassing me.” Tine laughed and glanced at her again.

 

“Hi Tine’s husband!” Air called out animatedly.

 

Sarawat’s nose scrunched up as he stared at the phone. “Um.”

 

“Here.” Tine switched the front facing camera to the main camera, “He can see you.” He informed Air. She waved and beamed at the phone.

 

“It’s so nice to kind of meet you.” She giggled and looked at Tine and then hid her face, “Okay Tine that’s enough I have to go to my desk now and be a responsible lawyer unlike some people chatting with their husbands on company time.” She winked at him, “Let’s grab lunch at noon okay?”

 

“Okay, see you.” Tine turned the camera back on to himself. Sarawat watched him silently. Tine could tell that something was clearly wrong. “Uh, sorry. I didn’t mean to get distracted, I just haven’t seen her since school and I got a bit excited.”

 

He could see Sarawat tug on his bottom lip with his fingers and avert his gaze, “Okay. I have to go.”

 

Tine frowned, “Are you mad?” Shit. Shit. He shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other.

 

Sarawat sighed, “No. I just have to go. I’ll call tonight okay?” Tine’s forehead wrinkled and he nervously chewed the inside of his cheek

 

“Okay.” He watched as the call disconnected. Tine frowned at the black screen and put his phone back into his pocket.  He let out a long exhale as he thought about Sarawat’s sudden mood change. Damn it. Well there went his good mood for the day.

Chapter Text

Chapter Ten: The Good, the Bad, and the Lovely

 

The bright fluorescent lights of the law office contrasted with the pitch black night seen pressing in through the windows. The day had been long and it had been extremely busy, but Tine still sat typing away at his laptop as Air sat across from him looking a lot more alert and energetic than he felt. Her fingers flew deftly over the keyboard at an impressive speed as he listened to the clicks and clacks of her typing. He glanced at his phone and noticed that it was already seven at night. He hadn’t heard from Sarawat since the disastrous phone call earlier that morning. Normally Sarawat would have sent a few texts during Tine’s work day and another to say goodnight, but Tine had heard nothing from the other man. The lack of communication made him feel anxious and irritated. He knew that he had annoyed Sarawat, that much was clear, but he didn’t think that the other man needed to drag this out so far. It was unfair and childish, especially since Sarawat already knew how much Tine missed him. He was punishing him and that didn’t settle well with Tine. Whatever. He didn’t care if he didn’t hear from Sarawat. If he chose not to contact Tine then that was his decision. Tine definitely wasn’t going to reach out to him first. He had already apologised and shouldn’t have been expected to do it again. Sighing, he leaned back in his chair and squeezed the point of his nose that rested right between his eyes. Air looked up at him and smiled.

“Thanks so much for staying to help me with this Tine. I haven’t worked on a guardianship draft since I was in fucking law school.” She shook her head and looked at the screen, before dishing more takeout food that they had bought into her mouth. “So confusing,” She mumbled. “Thank god for your template.”

Tine gave her a tired smile, “It’s alright. If I wasn’t here I’d just be at home staring at the walls with my dog.” Tine reassured her. Air smiled as she continued to type on the computer.

“Is your dog okay at home alone?”

Tine nodded, “Yea, plus I asked my brother in law to go over there and take her out for a long walk. I’m pretty sure he’s still there playing with her.” He yawned and stretched his arms above his head. “I have to use the bathroom. He moved to stand up, but his phone vibrated against the desk. Air jumped at the intense vibration. Tine’s brow curved up as he looked at the name on his screen. Look who we have here.

“That scared me,” She laughed as Tine answered the video call, “I thought we were under attack or something.” She muttered and refocused her attention on her computer.

“Hey.” Tine offered Sarawat a tired smile. The other man was wearing another suit, but without the jacket as he sat in what appeared to be a car.

“Hey,” Sarawat responded. Tine could see the other man scratch his cheek, “Where are you?”

Tine sighed and got up from his chair to move to another desk in the office, “Still at work.”

Sarawat frowned, “Why? It’s like seven there.”

“I know, Air needed some help, so I told her I’d stay. Green was supposed to stay too, but he had dinner plans with his boyfriend.” Tine rubbed his eyes and yawned, “I’m leaving soon though. I think she has a handle on it now.”

“Who is Air? That woman from earlier today?” Sarawat scowled, “I just wanted one minute to talk to my husband. But nope.” He huffed and shook his head. “Who’s watching Teddi? Did you just leave her alone the whole day? She’s still a kid Tine you can’t just abandon her.”

Tine forced a laugh as his irritation festered. Who did he think he was? “Hey, listen to me okay. I wouldn’t abandon her. She’s been my dog longer than she’s been our dog.” He glowered, “Phukong is over there with her right now. He’s been there for two hours, probably eating all of our food.”

Sarawat pressed his lips into a thin line, “Good.”

Tine narrowed his eyes, “I’m waiting for my apology.” He stared straight into the phone and could see Sarawat glance to the side.

“Fine.” He paused, “I was wrong.” Tine could hear talking in the background. “Tine,” Sarawat sighed and scratched his forehead, “I have to go. Talk soon.” The call disconnected before Tine even had a moment to say anything. Ugh stupid Saraleo. What the hell was his problem? He had been especially annoying today and Tine couldn’t understand why. They had been so good that morning before he got to work, but now everything just felt like shit. He couldn’t wait until Sarawat came back. They needed to figure this all out face to face. Tine stood up, walked back over to Air, and flung his phone on to his desk beside her cell. Air looked up at him.

“Oh I know that look.” She pursed her lips, “Trouble in paradise sir?” Tine sighed and shook his head. He didn’t want to get into it. He was too tired as it was and he just wanted to get home and cuddle with his cockapoo. “We can talk about it if you want? If you just give me like five minutes.” She glanced at her screen.

Tine let out a long exhale before he declined, “No it’s fine. I just need to use the bathroom and then I’m going to head out if that’s okay.”

Air nodded, “Yea of course.” Tine left the office and made his way to the bathroom. He just needed a reset on the whole day.

By the time he came back to grab his things, Air was still typing away. She stopped when she heard him and turned her body around in the swivel chair, “Tine. Your husband called and I accidentally answered it. Sorry.”

Tine blinked quickly, “What?”

Air nodded, “Yea, I was typing away and you put your phone beside mine. I thought it was mine so I grabbed it.” She nibbled on her bottom lip, “It wasn’t a face time just a regular call so I honestly didn’t realise.” She handed the phone over to him and he hesitantly took it from her. Normally he wouldn’t care, but things felt so weird with Sarawat that he wasn’t sure if this would make things worse for them.

“It’s really okay. What did he say?” He looked at the phone and clicked through his messages to see if Sarawat had sent him one.

“I told him you were in the bathroom and you’d be right back. I asked him if he wanted me to just leave the phone open until you returned. He said no, but just to tell you goodnight.” She shrugged, “That was it and then he said bye and hung up.” Tine sighed, fuck.

“Thanks.” He tried calling Sarawat back, but the phone rang out. He tried again, but it went straight to voicemail. Shit. He’s probably at the conference now and can’t answer. That’s it. Everything is fine. This was all just a little hiccup. “I have to go Air. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He grabbed his satchel from the floor and shut down his laptop. The feeling of dread started to overcome him and he immediately tried to push it down.

“Okay. Thanks Tine. Sorry again about the phone.” Air apologised again. Tine shook his head and forced a laugh.

He squeezed her shoulder, “Don’t worry about it.” She nodded and he left to go home. He kept his phone clenched in his hand just in case Sarawat called him back. Before he went into the parking lot, he put on his mouth mask and pulled on his black hat. The paparazzi knew which car Sarawat drove and would often tail it. Since Tine had been using the car to drive to work, they had been following him more in hopes that Sarawat was with him. He unlocked the door and threw his satchel on to the passenger seat before getting in. Sighing, he placed his forehead against the cold steering wheel and wrapped his arms around it. He didn’t feel good about their last conversation and wanted them to talk through it. “Just call me back,” He whispered into the silence. It was going to be another long restless night.


The rest of Wednesday and the whole of Thursday passed with no word from Sarawat. No text, no phone call, no video call. Nothing. It was now Friday evening around seven twenty and Tine was sitting in their condo with Teddi curled up beside him on the couch. Tine was absolutely livid. If Sarawat wasn’t already dead, then Tine was going to absolutely kill him. What the fuck? Who the hell does he think he is? Not answering his calls! Phone turned off what the actual fuck? Tine hopped up off the couch and fumed as he paced the living room. I swear if he’s not hurt or dead in a ditch right now. Tine trailed off in thought as his hands clenched beside him. He had barely been functional at work for the past few days. His eyes were glued to his phone and he was worried that any second now the American police were going to call him and tell him his husband was dead or some shit like that. He huffed out a breath and dragged his fingers through his hair. Tine was his damn husband. How dare he not call him! His phone notified him of a message. He was about to ignore it since he had been bombarded with messages from his friends after he exploded and told them that he thought Sarawat was dead and he was now a widower before he had even turned thirty. They were now sending endless inquiries to see if he had heard anything. He picked up the phone and it suddenly began to ring in his hands. He had changed Sarawat’s name to Saraleo and in brackets beside it, ex-husband, a few hours before and now that name was flashing across his screen. Tine fumbled the phone as his nerves got the best of him and he answered it.

“WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN YOU ASSHOLE! I WAS SO FUCKING SCARED!” He yelled into the phone as he felt tears sting his eyes. He hadn’t realised how terrified he had been until he answered. “I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD AND RATS WERE EATING YOUR FACE!” He could hear a sigh from the other side.

“Tine. I’m sorry.” Sarawat paused and Tine pressed his ear so hard against the phone he was sure he was going to break it. “I missed you so damn much. I couldn’t take it,” Sarawat confessed. Tine’s jaw dropped as he listened, “I got on a flight yesterday. I’ll be at the condo in half an hour.” Tine felt like the wind had been knocked out of his body. He felt like a balloon that had just been deflated. All the mean things he had prepared to hurl at the other man disappeared from his head. The way he had wanted to kick him right in the shin and then throw his wedding ring at his forehead, all that negativity just left him. Sarawat left his work conference early for him? He couldn’t handle being away from him? Tine found himself smiling like a fool. “Shit. The paparazzi are following us, might be closer to forty minutes,” Sarawat complained.

Tine croaked out, “Okay.”

He could tell that Sarawat was smiling as he spoke, “Okay, see you soon nuisance.” The call ended and Tine merely stood there with his face against the phone. He felt dizzy with excitement. Shit! He smacked his head as he remembered the surprise dinner. Running into the kitchen, he grabbed the ingredients from the fridge and started to throw everything he needed together to make the red curry. It was mostly simmering the sauce and cooking up the chicken. He hoped that it wouldn’t take too long to cook and if it did, he was sure that Sarawat could wait. Tine glanced at Teddi who had waltzed into the kitchen to get some water.

Tine picked her up and danced happily with her, “Your other dad’s coming home early.” He pressed a kiss to her face and then put her down. After forty minutes, he waited nervously by the door. The food was almost done and the rice had just been turned off. He had combed his hair four times and changed his shirt and pants about six times as he nervously prepared to see Sarawat after their short time apart.

A short time that truly felt like an eternity. Teddi flew to the door as the keys jingled in the lock. Tine wasn’t sure who was more excited between the two of them. His breath felt laboured, his head was pounding, his pulse was racing, and his heart thrashed against his chest. He was sure he was having a heart attack.

 Sarawat came through the door with his suitcase handle clutched in his hand and pushed the door shut behind him. “There’s a new security guard downstairs and he just kept staring at me.” Sarawat visibly shuddered as he informed Tine, “He was still staring at me when the elevator doors shut. So fucking weird.”He turned his head and took one look at Tine before the bag clattered heavily to the floor. Tine wasn’t sure who ran to whom first, but the next thing he knew, he was engulfed in Sarawat’s arms. He took in a big inhale and tightened his arms around the other man. “I missed you.” Sarawat mumbled into the side of his hair. “Sorry I scared you. I didn’t take time to think it out.” He pressed a kiss to Tine’s head, “I just knew I needed to come home.”

Tine smiled before he warned him, “If you ever do that again, I will destroy you myself.” He pulled back from his husband and studied his face as they still held each other. “I was really worried. I almost called the police station in the states. I wasn’t sure if that hot co worker of yours tried to put a move on you and you declined his advances so then he murdered you in a crime of passion.” Sarawat let out a loud laugh and leaned in to nuzzle at Tine’s cheek with the tip of his nose, before placing a timid kiss there.

“I’m sorry. I’ll make it up to you.”  Sarawat’s eyes flickered down to Tine’s lips and he leaned in and pressed his lips to the corner of Tine’s mouth. Tine felt like his body was about to erupt. Sarawat gazed at Tine with half lidded eyes. Woah. Was this really happening or had he fallen asleep?

Tine stuttered out in a squeaky high voice, “You will?” His whole body felt like it was on fire. Sarawat nodded. Tine cleared his throat, “Alright. Um, well I made you dinner. It’s almost done.”

Sarawat’s eyebrows rose up to his hairline, “You?” He questioned and then smiled. Tine could tell that the other man was trying not to laugh, “You cooked? But I didn’t smell anything burning.” Tine rolled his eyes and playfully pushed Sarawat away from him.

“Shut up! It’s delicious.” He folded his arms across his chest. Sarawat smirked and wrapped his arm around Tine’s waist.

“I bet it is. I’m just teasing you.” He pulled Tine against him, “Thanks for cooking.” Tine pouted and stuck his chin out. Sarawat kissed his chin and let him go. “I’m going to go shower first because I feel gross after that flight. Then we can eat.” Sarawat grabbed his bag and started to move towards the bedrooms.

Tine scratched the back of his neck. He felt so nervous, he needed to calm down, “Sounds good.” Sarawat looked back at him and grinned.

“Alright, It’ll be quick and I’ll be out.” Tine watched as Sarawat walked into the bedroom and then continued to watch him as he headed back out to use the shower in the hallway instead of their en suite. “I want to use the rainforest shower head. I missed it.”

Tine smirked and teased, “Do you just tell everything that you missed it?”

Sarawat shrugged, “No. Just the things that make me happy.”

Tine rolled his eyes and shooed the man to go bathe. Sarawat grinned and obliged. After a moment, Tine heard the burst of the shower from the bathroom. He tried his best not to picture the other man naked, but he hoped that if the rest of the night went better than their week had been, then maybe he wouldn’t have to use his imagination.

He was about to go into the kitchen when there was a light knock at the door. Tine frowned and opened it to find a shorter balding security guard standing there with his hands on his hips. Tine raised a brow in confusion, “Hi, can I help you? We didn’t call for anyone.”

“This is the residence of Sarawat Guntithanon?” The man asked with a small smile. Tine nodded, “Good. There have been some residents complaining of a series of thefts lately occurring in the condominium and I’m here to ensure that everyone’s windows are secure as well as to assess other security features you may have.”

“Oh wow.” Tine was surprised, Sarawat hadn’t said anything to him about recent break-ins, but they did have their own security alarm so maybe he hadn’t been worried about it.

“May I come in?” The man inquired as his eyes strained to see behind Tine.

Tine stepped back, “Yea for sure, sorry about that.” He laughed sheepishly. The man stepped inside and Tine closed the door behind him. The man looked around, his jaw slightly dropped as his eyes roamed.

The security guard turned to look at Tine, “Where’s Sarawat?”

Tine looked off in the direction of the bathroom, “He’s taking a shower. Sorry, is this going to take long?” He didn’t want to be rude, but he was really craving some alone time with Sarawat.

The man shook his head, “No, no. Just let me walk around and see how secure your home is.” Tine got a weird feeling from the man, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on why he felt that way. Something about his eyes seemed off. He slowly recalled that Sarawat had said something about the security guard, but he had been too distracted by his husband’s arrival to pay attention.

Tine studied the other man for a second as the other continued to glance around. “Excuse me, I just have to check on dinner. I’ll be back in a sec to show you around.” He plastered on a smile for the man and made his way into the kitchen to check on the curry. Seeing that the sauce had simmered down enough he turned off the stove and covered the pot. He lifted the lid off of the chicken, and eyed it. It smelled really good. He was actually quite proud of himself. Tine opened the fridge and grabbed two beer bottles and quickly glanced down at his phone which was lying on the counter. He was about to go back out to show the security guard around when he heard the sound of a door opening. The roar of the shower seemed to echo louder in the condo.  Just as he scrunched up his face in confusion, Teddi began to bark loudly, growling deep in her throat. It wasn’t a bark that he had heard from her before. Scared that she might have been hurt or gotten into something, Tine ran out of the kitchen to see her jumping and barking at the security guard. The man kept trying to kick away at her as he stood in front of the now ajar bathroom door where Sarawat was showering. Tine stood there in dumb shock as he watched the man reach out towards the door, while his other hand slowly lifted a cell phone that Tine could see was actively recording. As if struck by lightning, Tine rushed into action and approached the guard.

“What the hell are you doing?!” Tine screamed as he reached out and pulled the door shut. The veins in his head throbbed as adrenaline shot through his body. He wasn’t a confrontational man, but something overcame him at the thought of his husband being in any type of danger. He grabbed the man by the collar of his uniform and pulled him backwards away from the bathroom door. Anger boiled in his blood as he stared the other man down, “What the hell were you trying to do?” He all but growled at the security guard. The man put his hands out in an attempt to calm Tine down.

“I’m just doing my job and checking to see if everything’s secure.” The man stuttered out. His eyes were wide and constantly moving side to side as he averted Tine’s stare. He started walking backwards towards the front door. For a moment Tine thought that the guard leaving would be the best case scenario seeing that he was in no way shape or form a fighter. The most he had ever punched in his life was his pillow when he had been extremely angry. But this guy, he definitely wanted to hit. His betrayal of trust as a security guard not only made Tine feel violated, he also felt beyond unsafe. This man needed to be arrested and charged. As if sensing Tine’s intention, the man turned and ran for the door. Tine grabbed him from behind and pulled him back. The man slightly stumbled and ended up being dragged down to the floor from the momentum of the pull. Tine attempted to grab the phone out of his hand, but the man swung it around as he tried to get Tine away from him. Tine watched as the man grabbed his nightstick from his belt. Shit! He tried to jump back, but he was too slow. The loud crack of the stick against Tine’s knuckles echoed through the room as he moaned out in pain and clutched his hand to his stomach. It felt like a knife had been sliced across his hand. Teddi was barking like crazy from the couch as she watched her dad try and grab the man on the floor who was attempting to slide his butt over to the door, all the while making sure that his back wasn’t to Tine. Tine bolted to the door and locked it forcing the other man to scurry up and move away from him, dropping the nightstick in the process. Teddi jumped off of the couch and grabbed the item before dragging it away from the man. Tine pressed his back firmly against the wooden door behind him. The man clasped his hands together, “Hey, look. I didn’t get any pictures or videos. Okay, so please just move out of the way and we can act like this never happened.”

Tine’s eyes narrowed dangerously as he watched him, “Oh, but it did happen right? You lied to me to get into my home and tried to take a video of my husband showering and you think I’m going to let you go?” He huffed, “That’s funny.” His phone was in the kitchen, but he couldn’t get to it without letting the man go. He was going to have to wait for Sarawat to come out and grab it for him. “I’m calling the police and we’re going to press charges. What kind of security guard are you?” Tine could see the other man visibly pale as he stood in front of him.

“I can’t let that happen.” The shorter man charged at Tine and pushed him hard against the wooden door, resulting in a loud bang. Shit. Tine gasped as he had the wind knocked right out of his body. The guard tried to push him to the side but Tine shoved his palm into his face and pushed his head back away from him. Desperately, the other man threw a punch that barely missed Tine’s chin as he stumbled back. Tine’s eyes flicked over to the standing lamp by the door and grabbed it quickly. The man took that opportunity to punch Tine hard against his cheek, his ring scraping the skin and leaving a gash. Tine grunted and almost buckled at the pain.  Fucking hell. Tine’s fingers wrapped around the tall lamp and he swung it out hard and fast at the guard. Knocking him directly in the shoulder. There was a dull thud where the lamp and his shoulder connected. The man groaned and stumbled, but he didn’t fall. Fuck. Tine swallowed and could taste the metallic bitterness of blood in his mouth. He must have bitten his tongue when he got hit.

“I’m sorry! I can’t go to prison! I just got this job! Please I have a family.” The guard pleaded. “Please.”

Tine frowned, “I’m not trying to fight you. But I’m not letting you leave this place without the police escorting you out. You just fucking punched me in the face. I don’t know what else you’ll do.” Tine touched his cheek with his fingers and winced. He glanced at his hand and saw a little bit of fresh blood.

“Look, if you corner someone, you’re going to get hurt.” The guard quickly glanced at the little dog who was still barking on the couch as she guarded the nightstick and without a moment’s hesitation he desperately lunged for her. Tine ran in front of him and wrapped his arms around the other’s waist and pulled him down to the ground. The man landed directly on top of Tine, his back hit the ground with a loud solid thump. Tine had thought the bump into the door had been bad, but now he was almost wheezing from the pain.

 Tine pushed through the ache in his body, grabbed the shorter man’s shoulders, and with the strength of his torso reversed the position and was now on top of him in the mount position. He grabbed him by the wrists and pinned his arms down against the floor. “Stop moving!” Tine yelled angrily as the man thrashed between his legs. His knees were spread out to give him better leverage over the balding guard. Tine sent out a silent prayer of thanks for once having an older brother, who used to be much bigger than him and who was also into wrestling his little brother whenever he could. People wouldn’t believe it now, but Type used to be a wilder kid until he was about ten. Tine put his entire weight into holding the man down, he was thankful for his tall frame or this could have gone another way. He could hear the bathroom door open and wet footsteps clapped against the floor.

“Tine what the fuck?!” He could hear the fear in Sarawat’s voice as he heard the man run up beside him. Tine looked over his shoulder at a very wet and naked, aside from a towel, Sarawat hovering above him in shock. Sarawat’s hair was slick with water against his forehead as if he had run right out of the shower to see what the commotion was all about. Small droplets still clung to his face, dripping on to the floor beside Tine creating small pools of water.

“Wat!  Call the police!” Tine gritted through clenched teeth as the man tried to push back against his hold. “Now!” He barked. Sarawat bolted away from him and into what sounded like the bathroom. Tine figured that his phone must have been in there. The scent of heady perspiration hung in the air as he continued to straddle the guard, his thighs flexed as he tried to hold the man in place. Tine listened as his husband hurriedly told the dispatcher that there was an intruder in their home.


Tine’s body was still shaking as the adrenaline slowly faded away. He watched as Sarawat closed the door behind the police officers. One of them had already taken the security guard down earlier, but two others had stayed back to take their statement. The man had admitted that he had been star struck when he had seen Sarawat enter the building. He said that he had been following Sarawat’s media presence for some time over the years and hadn’t expected to see him on his first day working at their condominium. Initially the guard had intended to ask for a picture with him, but had said he lost his head for a moment and was going to try to sneak a video and leave. He refused to answer if he was going to use the video for his own personal use or to sell it.  People, Tine realised, were absolutely terrifying.

He watched as the other man locked the door and bolted it, before enabling their security system. Tine leaned back against the couch cushions and winced as his knuckles grazed the top of his jeans. Shit. He looked at his hand, turning it slowly to see how extensive the injury may have been. Tine looked up to see Sarawat staring at him with his hips on his waist and his head cocked to the side. After he had called the police, he had come and held the man’s legs down, which helped Tine out as he grew weary. Once the police arrived and grabbed the man, Sarawat was able to go and put on some clothes. Tine admired how Sarawat could still stand in front of him in nothing but shorts and T-shirt, hair tousled, and still look like a model, even after what they had been through.

“What the hell were you thinking?” asked Sarawat as he collected the first aid kit from the kitchen and settled on the sofa beside him.

“I don’t know,” Tine mumbled as he shuffled uncomfortably. “It just kind of happened”

“It was stupid and reckless. You should have just called the cops,” his tone was harsh and Tine winced slightly as the other man grabbed his injured hand. “If something like this ever happens again promise me you won’t be such an idiot.”

“Alright, alright. I promise okay? It wasn’t the plan, believe me.” Tine inhaled sharply as Sarawat applied the antiseptic to his split knuckles. It wasn’t like he had asked to get tossed around like a rag doll. He was the victim here.

“Sorry, I should have warned you.” Sarawat’s tone softened as he leaned forward to softly blow on Tine’s hand. “Does that help?” He looked up at him through his long lashes. Tine’s breath caught in his chest again as he took in his husband’s closeness.

“Yea, it’s fine. Thanks” for all the other man’s scolding he didn’t look mad. Was he just concerned about him? Tine thought hopefully. The warm fluttering feeling returned to his chest as he took in the scent of Sarawat’s body wash. It was heady and intoxicating. Sarawat wound the bandage around Tine’s hand, his long fingers working quickly to secure it in place. 

“Don’t get this wet. I’ll change the dressing again later and we’ll see how it’s doing. Now,” Sarawat said matter of factly as he set the freshly bandaged hand down and moved to sit on the coffee table in front of Tine. “Let’s see about that pretty face of yours,” He teased.

“You should see the other guy” Tine grinned at him, which turned out to be a bad idea. Pain shot through his cheek. He winced again and his hand flew up to his face. Sarawat swatted his hand away. 

“I did see him and you definitely look worse.” He smirked. “Hey, don’t touch it. Let me see.” Sarawat leaned in close, to take in the severity of the others injury. “It’s just a small cut, but this bruise is going to get ugly. So no more smiling like an idiot or you’ll make it worse.” He dabbed a cotton ball into the antiseptic and turned to Tine, “This is going to sting.” Tine recoiled automatically from the approaching cotton ball.

“I’m sure it’s fine. I mean, how dirty can a guard’s ring be? Honestly?”

Sarawat cocked an eyebrow at him “Really? The big strong defender is scared of a cotton ball?”

“Noo,” Tine said, rolling his eyes at him playfully, “It’s the iodine I’m not excited about.

Sarawat laughed and rolled his eyes. “My hero. Stay still.”

Tine held his breath as the other leaned in close to him, Sarawat’s eyes were fixed on his cheek. He ever so gently dabbed the cotton ball to his face. Tine grunted and turned his head away in protest as the burning pain lanced through his cheek. But Sarawat was ready for him. His free hand cradled his face as Tine attempted to turn. Tine was so surprised to feel his husband’s hand there that he paused long enough for him to place a few well planned dabs.

“Ow!” Tine whined.

“Okay, okay. You baby.” Sarawat said softly as he turned Tine to face him. “That’s it, all done.”

“But it still hurts”

“Here,” Sarawat leaned in to blow on Tine’s throbbing cheek. The hairs on Tine’s arms stood up as the warm air caressed the cut. “Better?” He pulled back slightly to look at him.

“Ya,” breathed Tine. He hadn’t even realized he was holding his breath. “It’s perfect.”

He could still feel Sarawat’s breath, warm and soft against his skin. Had Sarawat’s breathing quickened? Or was he imagining things? 

Tine studied the other’s face as he remained in awe of him. He was so beautiful, strong but so gentle. Had he ever really appreciated how Sarawat’s hair fell softly across his brow? How his teasing eyes seemed to pierce through him to his very depths. And those lips. His eyes were drawn from Sarawat’s eyes as he took in their fullness. What would the other man taste like he wondered? His eyes met his husbands again. Sarawat was so still, frozen, as if waiting, but his eyes burned with something Tine hadn't seen in them before. Tine worried his bottom lip as his eyes once again returned to the other’s plump lips. Should he ask? Should he see if…

He leaned in and softly brushed his lips over Sarawat’s. They were as warm and soft as he’d dreamed them to be. He pressed his lips to his, revelling in the thrill their touch sent through his body. He pulled back, just far enough to take in the other man’s response. Sarawat’s lids had gone heavy as he surveyed him. Not mad, Tine thought, that’s a good sign. He needed to feel him again, couldn’t think of anything other than Sarawat’s swirling scent and the feel of his lips meeting his own. He leaned in and pressed another kiss to his lips. Sarawat let out a sigh as Tine began to softly caress the other’s lips with his, exploring its softness. When he began to pull away again Sarawat brought his hands to cup the nape of Tine’s neck drawing the shy man back to him. Sarawat’s kiss landed forcefully, his tongue teasing Tine’s lips to part for him. He inhaled sharply as he softened, the other’s powerful kisses going deeper, Sarawat’s tongue stroking his as he pulled his body towards him. He wrapped his arms around his husband’s waist lost in the madness. Energy coursed through Tine’s entire body as every sense awakened within him. Tine’s toes curled as Sarawat’s relentless kisses claimed him. But two could play that game. Tentatively at first, he slipped his tongue between the plump lips revelling in the taste of Sarawat.  Then he found himself matching the other, stroke for stroke he rose to meet him, Sarawat moaned deep in his throat as Tine turned the tables and began to explore the man in front of him with restless urgency. Had anything ever felt so right? He laced his fingers through Sarawat’s thick hair and drew his body to him so that there was no escape. Moving back against the couch, he pulled Sarawat off of the coffee table so that the other man was straddling his lap. Sarawat’s knees pressed deep into the cushions on either side of Tine’s thighs, one of his hands firmly holding on to Tine’s shoulder as the other clutched the back of the couch. Tine tilted his chin up as they continued to drink each other in, their kiss invading all of his senses, numbing the ache of his bruised body. His pulse raced. There was a loud pounding in his ears as his hands feverishly slipped under the bottom of Sarawat’s T-shirt, his fingers caressing the heated skin beneath it.  They were sunk, they were both sunk and Tine knew it. He pulled Sarawat back from him, he watched as the other man’s chest heaved, his swollen lips parted. Their marriage arrangement had just gotten a hell of a lot more interesting.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Eleven: Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire

 

The early morning sunlight spilled through the window and blanketed the bedroom with warm hues of yellow and amber. Its majestic light beamed into the quiet space as it covered the entangled couple in the tousled bed. Sarawat felt exhausted. It was as if he hadn’t slept in months instead of a few days, but he didn’t care as he held the sleeping man snuggled up against his chest, cradled in his arms. Tine’s head pressed heavily against Sarawat’s shoulder, numbing the tired man’s arm in the process. His left forearm draped lazily across Sarawat’s chest while his hand curled into a loose fist over the other man’s left breast. Whenever Sarawat turned his head, his lips would graze across the smooth skin of the other’s brow, pausing there as he inhaled Tine’s naturally sweet scent. He couldn’t quite pinpoint what gave the other this tantalizing smell, but he could only associate the specific fragrance to Tine. As Sarawat’s eyes raked over his husband, he noticed that the morning light had threaded itself through the sleeping man’s hair, adding bronzed highlights to the normally obsidian tresses. He was absolutely mesmerized by the other’s beauty. The sleeping man slightly tilted his head up towards the other’s face and huffed out some air through his nose as he readjusted himself in Sarawat’s arms. Sarawat waited for him to settle down before he reached out to touch him. Hesitantly, his index finger gently traced over Tine’s full eyebrows, slid down the bridge of his slender nose, and ghosted over the delicious pink lips before he rested his hand back on to Tine’s bare hip.

He should have slept, he knew that. But he was scared. He was scared that this wasn’t real. That this was just another one of the countless dreams he had of being close to the only man he had ever loved. This was the first time that he had ever had meaningful sex with someone else. It was a rare occurrence for Sarawat to actually want to snuggle and cuddle someone against his naked form post-coital, but he craved that intimacy with Tine. In an unprecedented event, Sarawat felt that he had actually made love to someone, instead of just fucking them, and it exhilarated yet terrified him. Every man he had been intimate with before Tine had just been casual, no feelings attached, and that was the way Sarawat had preferred it. There were many times he’d wonder what it’d be like to look at the person beside him and feel something, maybe a faint stirring within, but it had never happened, no matter how hard he had tried. He had become complacent with a life of meaningless flings and a fuck buddy, but as he gazed at Tine, he knew he was ready for so much more.

Tine’s fingers twitched against Sarawat’s chest as another dream seemed to play in his head. Sarawat had to resist the urge to giggle as the fingers furled and unfurled against his bare skin, tickling him. His eyes narrowed at the bandage that wrapped across Tine’s knuckles. He would have never imagined that he would have come out of the shower to find the man he loved straddling some stranger in their living room. At first he had been confused about what he was looking at and then had immediately sprung into action. He was proud of his husband’s ability to take the intruder down, but he had also been terrified of what could have happened to Tine had he been unable to. The thought of losing the other man wasn’t a reality that Sarawat could handle. He glanced at the gash on the other’s cheek. It had been a few days since the incident, so it was healing up, but the bruise around it was still a medley of blues and purples. As if on instinct, Sarawat pulled Tine closer against him. He wanted to protect him from anything and anyone. Keeping Tine away from any harm was his main goal, no matter what that meant for him. From now on, his priority was always going to be Tine.

The man in his arms began to stir. Tine’s eyes slowly opened as he rubbed them with the side of his injured hand.

“Good you’re awake. My arm was falling asleep,” Sarawat teased as Tine rolled away from him to stretch. Sarawat’s brow wrinkled as he saw the large bruise on Tine’s back. If he ever saw that security guard again, he wasn’t sure he could stop himself from beating him into a bloody pulp. His eyes travelled down to Tine’s bare ass as the blanket shifted down his waist. Sarawat reached out and pinched a firm fleshy globe causing Tine to yelp.

“Hey!” Tine screeched as he whipped his head to look at the other man. “No touchy!”

Sarawat smirked, “You weren’t saying that last night,” he retorted. Tine flushed and pulled the blanket over his entire naked form stopping at his shoulders, leaving his spotted neck exposed. Sarawat reached out and dragged his fingers across the multiple hickeys he had placed there on the soft skin.

“Shut up,” Tine muttered, squeezing his eyes shut, “So embarrassing.” Sarawat hooked his arm around Tine’s waist, slid him across the bed towards him, and pressed his chest against Tine’s side. He leaned in and placed light kisses to Tine’s uninjured cheek. He was elated that they were able to do this together without the initial awkwardness. Sarawat hadn’t planned on having sex with Tine after their intimate kiss, but once they had managed to make their way into the bedroom all bets were off. Tine had been extremely timid and reserved the first time, insisting that they do it in the dark. Understandably, Sarawat had no problem with that, he would do whatever it took to make Tine feel safe. By the third time they had slept together and after the initial anxiety had worn off, Sarawat noticed that the other man was much more comfortable being with him which made him happy.

“Do you like me touching you?” Sarawat whispered against the side of Tine’s face as he continued to pepper gentle kisses along the man’s jaw. He could hear Tine’s breathing quicken. The sound of Tine’s breath hitching in his throat was like music to Sarawat’s ears.

“Yes,” Tine breathed out as he tilted his head up so Sarawat could have better access to his neck. Sarawat happily obliged and sucked gently on the skin above Tine’s adam’s apple. Tine moaned out in pleasure. “Fuck. I have to get ready for work,” he groaned, but made no attempt to move. Sarawat hummed happily as he continued to tease the other man.

“Call in sick,” he muttered as he moved his head down Tine’s body, his fingers pulling down the fabric of the blanket to expose more of Tine’s skin. “Then we can have fun.”

“Sarawat,” Tine grunted. He began to pant as Sarawat latched on to his nipple. A hiss pulled through Tine’s teeth as he arched his back and pushed his chest against Sarawat’s moist lips. Sarawat swished his tongue over the hardened nub, flicking it back and forth against the back of his teeth. Tine let out a strangled moan and pushed his hips up against the blanket.

“Hmm?” Sarawat peppered kisses in the middle of Tine’s chest before sucking the other already bruised nipple into his mouth. Tine’s hand flew to Sarawat’s hair and tugged hard as Sarawat’s tongue lapped at the treat between his lips. He had always found Tine’s chest to be extremely sexy and the minute their backs had hit the bed after the fight, he thoroughly explored that part of the other’s man body with his fingers and his mouth.

“Fuck, Wat,” Tine whimpered. Sarawat tilted his face up, his hair falling into his eyes as he studied the other man. Tine’s head was thrown back against the pillow and his bottom lip was held tightly between his teeth. The image alone made Sarawat’s body react dangerously. He lifted the blanket that was covering them both and moved to kneel between Tine’s spread legs. He placed one hand beside Tine’s head and the other hand lifted Tine’s leg up so that he would bend his knee. He hovered over him, the lower half of their bodies still covered by the blanket to keep them warm. Tine watched him closely, his cheeks a bright red. “Wat, we can’t, I have to get ready. And I’m sore as fuck,” he protested.  Sarawat pouted and stroked the smooth skin on the outer side of Tine’s thigh.

“Alright,” Sarawat finally relented. He couldn’t blame the other man. As much as he had tried to be gentle, it had still been Tine’s first time with someone of the same sex. The fact that they had already managed it three times over five days was fortunate enough. “We don’t have to do that,” Sarawat hinted and looked down at the objects between their legs before looking at Tine’s face, “but I can do something else for you.” He licked his lips as he stared down at Tine.

Tine’s face grew even redder as he looked up at the other, “I won’t have time to help you out though.”

Sarawat smiled, “I don’t care,” he whispered as his hand moved from Tine’s outer thigh to the inner thigh and stroked the skin there. His hand sliding up slowly to what he really wanted to stroke and suck.

“Ah fuck,” Tine grunted once Sarawat found what he was looking for. Before Sarawat could do anything further, Tine reached up and cupped Sarawat’s face between his hands. Sarawat stopped what he was doing and stared down at him. His eyes studied the other man’s face and tried to hold on to this memory for as long as he could. Tine’s eyes were half lidded, his hair was curled messily across his forehead, and his lips were still swollen from Sarawat sucking on them the night before. He could feel the pad of Tine’s thumb stroke across his cheek as he pulled Sarawat’s head down towards his own. Tine’s eyes flickered down to his lips and then back up at his eyes. Sarawat’s arm trembled as he tried to hold up his body so that it didn’t come crashing down on the other man. Moving his hand from between Tine’s legs, he put it beside Tine’s head to stabilize him as he leaned in. His heart thrashed against his sternum as it had done before when Tine had kissed him that first time. He could hear Tine’s breathing speed up too as their faces grew closer to each other. Sarawat tilted his head to the side and closed his eyes as their lips connected, moving slowly together to their own leisure beat. Tine deepened the kiss and every inch of Sarawat’s body felt as if it was on fire as the other man moved his hands from his face and wrapped his arms around his neck. Sarawat’s arms shook from how they were positioned, so he moved down to balance on his forearms. His fingers played around in Tine’s hair as they kissed, their mouths slowly exploring the other’s, mapping out the places that they were still unfamiliar with.  Tine broke the kiss with a loud wet pop and placed a chaste peck to Sarawat’s wet lips. Sarawat opened his eyes and smiled as he admired the man below him, “Can we um,” Tine started and then paused, averting his eyes for a moment.

“Can we what?”

Tine cleared his throat, “Can we finish this in the shower? That way we’ll be halfway ready for work.”

Sarawat chuckled and he kissed the corner of Tine’s lips, “Yes nuisance, I can give you a blowjob in the shower.” Tine smacked his arm and his eyes widened in shock.

“Jeez! Why do you have to say it like that?!” He groaned and pushed up against Sarawat’s chest to get him off of him. “Couldn’t you just say yes?”

Sarawat smirked and laughed, “Tine. We had sex. I’ve sucked yours, you’ve sucked mine. And I’ve loved every bit of it,” he teased. Tine scrambled out of the bed, clearly embarrassed by the other man’s words as he pulled on a pair of boxer briefs. Sarawat eyed the other man’s muscular frame and licked his lips, “And I can’t wait to do so much more to you in the shower,” he remarked and slid out of bed behind Tine. He stretched out his body with a loud groan, completely disregarding the fact that he was fully naked. “Why are you putting on your boxers? You’re just going to take them off again,” Sarawat absentmindedly inquired as he bent over to check his phone that was charging on the nightstand. A sharp smack against his butt cheek almost jolted him forward. What the-? He turned to look at his husband in shock and noticed the smug look on the other man’s face. “Did you just smack my ass?” Sarawat questioned. Mischief sparkled in his eyes as he watched Tine.

Tine shrugged and tried his best to feign innocence, “Maybe.”

“You know the rules. One ass smack means I get to suck on whatever I want for five minutes.”

“Oh, are those the rules?” Tine questioned as he walked over to Sarawat and wrapped his arms around the other’s waist.

Sarawat nodded, “Mhm. I don’t make the rules, I just follow them.”

Tine’s eyebrow curved up, “Is that so?” He quizzed as he leaned in towards Sarawat, who in turn leaned in towards Tine for what he thought was another kiss, but was startled when he felt another sharp smack on his ass. His eyes widened as he looked at Tine. Tine licked his bottom lip, “So I guess you can suck on whatever you want for ten minutes now.” With that he turned on his heel and walked into their en suite bathroom. Sarawat shook his head in disbelief. One minute the man was bashful and turning red like a cherry tomato and the next minute he was a mischievous tease. He grinned as he watched the other man grab their toothbrushes from the holder on the counter and turn his head to look at him. “You coming?” Tine asked. Sarawat smiled as he walked into the bathroom, his heart feeling like it was about to burst. He was so overwhelmingly in love with this man.

Tine handed over Sarawat’s toothbrush that he had already wet and placed toothpaste on. “Thanks.” Sarawat said before he popped the toothbrush into his mouth and began brushing his teeth. Small giggles that came from Tine made him turn his attention on to the other man who was standing beside him at the sink. His eyes shifted to watch him through the reflection in the mirror, “What’s wrong with you?” He gurgled out before spitting into the sink.

Tine shrugged and also spat before continuing to brush, “I still can’t believe that you were jealous of Air and me.” He giggled again and glanced over at Sarawat. After they slept together, Sarawat had come clean about his jealousy of Air and Tine while they were having pillow talk. He hadn’t intended on saying anything, but it had accidentally slipped out mid conversation to the other man beside him.

Sarawat raised a brow, “Why can’t you believe it?” He mumbled as he switched the brush to the other side of his mouth.

“I don’t know. It just seems funny that you think a bunch of women are throwing themselves at me on the regular. And that you’d actually be jealous if they were.” Tine spat into the sink and opened the tap to pour water into his open palm to drink it. He swished the liquid in his mouth.

 “Women are probably throwing themselves at you and you’re just too dumb to see it,” Sarawat theorized before he turned his face to look directly at Tine, “And yea, I was jealous because I-,” He paused and then glanced away, “I like you.” He stuck the toothbrush back into his mouth and continued to nervously brush his teeth. There, he said it. It wasn’t quite an accurate scale of his feelings, but for now it was good enough. He heard a gurgling sound and watched as the water in Tine’s mouth spilled sloppily out of his parted lips and dribbled down his chin. “Ew,” Sarawat exclaimed and laughed as he observed the other man.

Tine began coughing and spat the rest of the water into the sink before looking back at Sarawat, “You like me?” He asked slowly. Sarawat rolled his eyes.

“No, I hate you. I hate you so much that I flew back early from my work trip just to be with you.” He answered sarcastically.

Tine frowned and rolled his eyes, “Thanks you ass.” Sarawat smirked and put some water into his mouth to rinse. He could see that Tine was still staring at him, the remnants of the watery slobber still around the other man’s mouth. Sarawat thought that he was absolutely adorable. “Speaking of jealousy, I just-,” Tine started saying before he nervously nibbled at his bottom lip as Sarawat watched him with an arched brow, “-I need to know if I should honestly be worried about you and Oak.”

Sarawat almost swallowed the water in his mouth. Fuck. Should he tell him? He had hoped that this really wasn’t going to come up again. Yes, he should tell him. He glanced at Tine and observed the furrowed brow and the clearly concerned look on the other man’s face. No, he couldn’t upset him right now, not when things felt so good. Sarawat didn’t want to ruin this moment. He glanced away and spit the water out into the sink. He wiped his mouth with his hand, “You have nothing to worry about.” He answered truthfully as he locked eyes with Tine. “Oak’s not even my type. I’m not attracted to him,” He lied convincingly.  He vowed to tell Tine the truth someday, but today just didn’t seem right. He’d tell him soon. Sarawat watched as Tine’s face broke into a wide toothy smile. Tine grabbed Sarawat’s face and rubbed the goopy mess from his mouth all over the other man’s cheek before pressing a wet kiss against Sarawat’s warm skin. “Ugh nuisance,” Sarawat whined before he laughed and wiped the side of his face with the back of his hand, “so gross.”

Tine stared at him and gave him a shy smile, “I like you too.” A blush bloomed across the apples of his cheeks as he looked at Sarawat.  Sarawat’s heart swelled with the love that he was harbouring there. Tine liking him meant that this wasn’t just some physical situation, this was real. Sarawat’s face broke into a rare wide smile, showing off his top teeth. He reached out and affectionately scratched the side of Tine’s head as they looked at each other. Maybe Tine didn’t love him yet, but this was a promising start. He refused to mess this up.

In the blink of an eye, Tine easily shifted from innocent to seductive as he smirked and pulled off his boxer briefs, dropping them carelessly to the floor. Sarawat stared at him, his lips parting in shock at the swift move. He had literally seen Tine naked a moment before, but every time he saw him, it seemed like the first time all over again. His heart thumped in his chest as other parts rose to the occasion. Tine’s eyes travelled down Sarawat’s naked body before he looked back up into Sarawat’s eyes, “I was going to ask if you were ready, but I can see that you are,” Tine teased and turned the water on for the shower. “You have ten minutes starting now,” He informed Sarawat before he stepped into the bathtub and extended his hand out to the other man. Sarawat carelessly threw his toothbrush on the counter and immediately grabbed Tine’s hand as he pulled him in. They pulled the shower curtain closed before Sarawat wrapped his arms around Tine’s waist and kissed the other man under the warm spray of the water.


Their fingers interlocked as they walked happily down the block. Teddi pulled at the leash in Tine’s hand as she ran to various objects and sniffed at them before moving on to the next thing to sniff. It had been about two weeks since the altercation with the security guard and Sarawat felt relieved that Tine’s bruises had faded to a yellowish light brown. He knew that Tine had felt awkward at first with the gash being so visible on his face, but the media had already caught wind of Tine’s heroics and had praised his actions. The cut and the bruising on his face were battle scars in the eyes of public opinion which allowed Tine to wear them proudly. They became proof of what he had done to protect his family’s privacy. Sarawat gently squeezed the other man’s hand as they continued their walk. Tine turned to look at him, his lips turning up into a smile. Tine’s black hat was low on his head, but Sarawat could still see the other’s eyes sparkle as he looked at him. Sarawat smiled and then turned his head, feeling oddly shy. He loved him. He loved him a lot. But he wouldn’t tell him yet, that was the decision he felt he needed to make. Right now he just wanted to enjoy his time with his husband and he doubted that Tine felt the same way about him just yet, despite them sleeping together. Sarawat didn’t want to overwhelm him, especially since he was never really sure what Tine was thinking.

 Before they had gotten together, Tine had been sending out some very confusing signals to Sarawat and now he felt he needed to be overly cautious. One minute the other man would come out with nothing but a towel on and the second that Sarawat paid attention to him he had run away and put clothes on. After that Sarawat had wanted to play it safe, he didn’t want to misunderstand Tine’s actions and accidentally scare him away. When Tine had hunkered down on to Sarawat’s lap, the surprise of it hadn’t allowed him to mentally prepare himself. Parts of his body had sprung into action and he had to excuse himself to the safety of the bathroom. Then the other man had tried to massage him, but Sarawat didn’t want to take any risks so he had simply pretended to fall asleep.

 It wasn’t until the popcorn fiasco that Sarawat had felt that Tine might have been flirting with him, especially after he had admitted that he might miss him and when it had been painfully obvious that Tine was jealous of Oak. But when Sarawat had finally been bold enough to make a move on Tine by sucking on his finger, the other man had scrunched up his face in what looked like disgust. Sarawat immediately retreated back into their bedroom and had berated himself for being so stupid. He had decided to never make a move again. If anything were going to happen, it would be on Tine’s terms and he was okay with that. He would take it slow. But he hadn’t expected the vicious feeling of jealousy mixed in with dread when he saw Tine with his co-worker. He couldn’t stand seeing him giggle and blush with her. Those were his giggles to hear and his blushes to see. It had made him unreasonably disgruntled and he struggled with hiding it. In his mind, the situation that had happened at Type and Man’s wedding was going to repeat itself. He was going to miss his chance. He was going to lose Tine again. Without much thought, he apologised to his employers, stated a family emergency and high tailed it back home to be with his husband. He didn’t have a plan beyond that, other than spending time with Tine and just being physically present for him. Never in a million years would he have thought what was going to happen would have happened.

“Wat!” Tine loudly called out while staring at him. Sarawat shook his head, blinked away his thoughts, and returned the other man’s stare.

“Yea?”

Tine cocked his head to the side, “What were you thinking about? I called your name like three times.”

“Oh shit. Sorry. Got lost in thought,” Sarawat apologised.

Tine frowned, “Everything okay?” He asked with concern. Sarawat nodded and gave him a small smile. Tine watched him for a moment more and then grinned, seemingly pacified. “There’s an ice cream shop across the street. I asked if you wanted to get a cone.”

Sarawat glanced at the store, “Yea. Sounds good.” He brought their joined hands to his lips and kissed each one of Tine’s finger tips. Tine ducked his head, which Sarawat knew was a sign that he was blushing and pulled them across the street with Teddi running along beside them. Sarawat had stayed outside with her while Tine went and ordered them their cones. Once they had gotten their treats, they found a bench in a nearby park and sat down on it.

Happily licking his strawberry ice cream, Tine leaned his shoulder against Sarawat and slouched down on the bench. Sarawat wrapped his arm around Tine’s shoulders and held him close against his side. He was so happy, it scared him. The moment felt like a bubble, beautiful, but so fragile. Sounds of loud singing and cheering travelled through the park. They turned their heads to the left to see a bridal party making their way through the area, happily clapping and dancing as the groom made his way to his brides home. Teddi went crazy and tried to pull out of Tine’s grasp as she watched the commotion. Sarawat licked his rocky road ice cream and smiled as he watched the group continue their journey along the path.

“Were you nervous?” He heard Tine ask. Sarawat glanced down at him, but couldn’t see his face because of the hat.

“When?”

“When you had to walk to my house on our wedding day,” Tine clarified.

Sarawat chewed at a piece of chocolate in his mouth. He had been extremely nervous getting married to Tine, but it wasn’t for the reasons that the other man was probably thinking of. He had been nervous to enter a platonic arrangement when his feelings were far from platonic. It wasn’t long after their first and only practice touching that Sarawat devastatingly realised that his love for Tine was still there. He truly hoped that Tine would be a terrible person to live with and that his feelings would go away. But every second he spent with the other man just cemented how right he had been for choosing to love him. Sarawat realised early on that he didn’t fall in love with Tine, but had grown in love with him over the years. The boyish smile, the infectious laugh, and the bubbly personality were only a few of the things that made Sarawat love him. In his heart, Tine was a part of him, he had always been. Even when he thought that he was over him for good, he knew that Tine would forever be a part of him, a key player in the story of his life.

“Wat?” Tine turned his head towards Sarawat, “You’re doing it again.”

Sarawat frowned, “What?”

“Drifting off.”

Sarawat sighed, “Sorry. I just thought about the wedding and got distracted.” He licked his ice cream, “Yea, I was nervous.”

Tine turned his head and looked away from him, “Yea me too. I was scared you wouldn’t show up and then I would go down as the guy who got dumped by his fake fiancé.”

Sarawat laughed, “Well no one but you and I, oh and our mom’s knew about the fake part.”

Tine nodded, “True, but it still would have been embarrassing.”

“I wouldn’t have done that to you. I know how important your family is and I just wanted to help out where I could.” Sarawat nibbled on the side of his cone, “I thought you would back out,” he divulged.

Tine stayed quiet for a moment, “I mean, I thought about it for sure. My friends told me they could help me escape if I needed to and I honestly considered doing it.” Tine admitted as he finished off his cone. Sarawat frowned. It sounded like Tine really hadn’t wanted to marry him. “But like you said my family means everything to me, I’d do whatever it took to help them.” Tine shifted his body and sat up properly so that he could look at Sarawat. He gave him a shy smile, “You’re my family too now I guess.” He pushed the brim of his hat back and pressed a quick peck to Sarawat’s lips, “So I’d do whatever it took to help you too.” Sarawat could taste the sweetness of the strawberry ice cream on Tine’s lips.

Sarawat’s eyes widened and his face grew warm, “Oh.” He coughed and stuffed more of the cone in his mouth so that he didn’t have to speak.

Tine laughed as he studied him, “Are you blushing?”

“No, I’m just hot. Shut up.”Sarawat denied it, but there was still a grin on his face. He finished off his cone.

“Yea, I bet.” Tine smirked and fixed his hat. Sarawat was proud of Tine, he had actually kept his promise to be better at wearing his hats and mouth masks out in public. Fortunately, they hadn’t seen much of the paparazzi in awhile.

Sarawat turned his face to look at Tine, “Speaking of family. We should have eleven kids.” He said casually.

Tine nearly choked on his spit and sputtered, “Excuse me?”

“Yea, I want to adopt seven and then we can get a surrogate for the other four,” Sarawat smiled and wiggled his eyebrows. “Good plan right?” He wasn’t being serious, but the look on Tine’s face was worth it.

“Eleven?!” Tine scoffed, “That’s enough for like a whole team.”

“Exactly! We’d have our own soccer team of kids.” Sarawat teased, but he couldn’t help but laugh at Tine’s expression.

Tine’s brows knitted together, “I have no idea if I’d be good with kids, but I know damn sure eleven is too many.” Tine really seemed to think Sarawat was being serious. Would he actually be open to having kids with him?

“Okay, how about we adopt two and have one through a surrogate?” Sarawat offered a more appropriate suggestion. He hoped that Tine would agree to it because having three kids was actually what he wanted.

The corner of Tine’s lips quirked up, “That I can get behind. Two boys and a girl maybe.” He angled his body away from Sarawat and brought his legs up on the bench so that he could bend his knees. His back pressed against Sarawat’s chest as he slouched down, “I think I could be a good dad to three.”

Sarawat beamed even though Tine couldn’t see him, “You’d be an amazing dad to any number of kids little buffalo.” Sarawat glanced at the dog that was chilling on the ground beneath the bench, “Look how good you are with Teddi.”

He heard Tine laugh, “I’m good with Teddi, but you are amazing with her. I can’t wait to see how you are with our pretend kids. I better be their favourite, but they’ll probably prefer their papa Wat over their daddy Tine.”

Sarawat put his chin against the top of Tine’s head. “Yea. That’s probably true.” He smirked.

“Ugh you’re annoying.” Tine said but Sarawat could hear the laughter in his voice.

“Alright, so we’ll have three pretend kids who will love me more, but kind of love you too.” Sarawat paused. If they could talk about kids, then maybe he could bring up something else that was really on his mind, “We should look into buying a house,” He stated. He could see Tine’s head turn slightly towards him.

“Oh wow, when?” Tine questioned, a slight hesitation in his voice. Sarawat was happy that he hadn’t freaked Tine out with his statement. Technically they were still supposed to get a divorce after their year was up.

“We can start looking next week. Or the week after,” Sarawat proposed. He waited for Tine to say anything, but the other man remained silent. Shit. Did he overstep? He needed to pull back, say that he was joking or something. He opened his mouth, but Tine finally spoke.

“Wat?”

Sarawat held his breath, “Yea.” Damn, here it comes.

“Don’t freak out, but I think this is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life,” Tine confessed. Nope, that was definitely not what he had expected.

Sarawat was sure his heart stopped in his chest. He didn’t even know what to really make of Tine’s words. He had definitely been caught off guard by the admission. “Oh.” Was all he managed to say, scared that if he said anything else it could have ruined the moment.

“I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been happy. I’ve lived a happy life. I have good friends and I love my family, it’s just right now,” Tine paused, “I just feel peaceful. I don’t know, it sounds stupid now that I’m saying it out loud. Just forget what I said.”

Sarawat frowned, “Tine sit up.” Tine turned his head and grabbed the back of the bench to help him sit up. He glanced at Sarawat and even as evening approached, Sarawat could see the blush on his cheeks. Sarawat pulled off his own hat and cupped Tine’s face with his hands. Tine stared back at him, his nose scrunched up. Sarawat leaned in, tilted his head and pressed a firm kiss to Tine’s lips. The air from Tine’s nose tickled his cheek. He pulled back and rubbed their noses together. They stared into each other’s eyes, but were interrupted by a bright flash. A man with a large camera was smiling at them as he stood by a tree. Sarawat clenched his fists and put his hat back on his head.

“Ugh,” Tine said in disgust as he stood up from the bench and waited for Sarawat to do the same. Sarawat stood up and took Tine’s hand in his own before they walked off with Teddi by their side. They walked in silence all the way back to their condominium, knowing that the man at the park was following their every move. Once they were in the comfort of their home, and had taken off their hats, they finally spoke to each other.

“Are you hungry?”

“I’m happy with you too.”

They spoke over each other and stared. Tine’s eyes widened. “What? What’d you say?”

Sarawat cleared his throat and glanced to the side, “You make me happy.” Sarawat nodded at his own words, “I should have said that before.” He looked up and watched as Tine’s face broke into a smile.

“Okay.” Tine tilted his head forward, “I’m glad.”

“Should we wait to look into a house?” Sarawat inquired. He was still nervous that he had pushed Tine a bit too fast.

Tine shrugged, “Maybe?”

Sarawat slowly nodded, “Okay. That’s fair.” Tine walked up to him and placed his palms against Sarawat’s chest. Sarawat placed his hands on Tine’s hips, pulling him in. Tine leaned in and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.

“We can still look into the different types of houses we’d be interested in. Like, do you want a big ass house?” Tine grinned, “Or a small dinky thing.”

“A small dinky thing,” Sarawat smiled back. No matter how much money he had, he still wanted a small comfortable home.

Tine laughed and Sarawat relished in the sound of it, “A small dinky thing with our three pretend kids? That’s not going to work. We’ll have to get a five bedroom.”

“Five? No, the boys can share a room and the girl can have her own room.” Sarawat pushed his hair back to get it out of his eyes, “So we’ll do four bedrooms.”

Tine tapped his chin and made exaggerated thinking faces, “Fine. But the boys will accuse us of favouritism you know.”

“True. Oh well, they don’t run our imaginary home.” Sarawat leaned in and pecked Tine on the lips, “We run it,” he declared passionately. Tine giggled and smoothed the fabric over Sarawat’s chest.

“Damn right. Plus they’ll have a big imaginary backyard to play soccer with their papa Wat. That should keep them happy.”

“Unless they turn out to be nerds like you and they want to join cheerleading.” Sarawat teased. Tine scoffed and pinched his chest, “Ow.” Sarawat laughed and rubbed the spot.

“Listen, I only joined cheerleading to try to get the hot girls alright. I wasn’t serious about it at first, but it kind of grew on me.” He pouted, “If our fake sons want to join the fake cheerleading squad you better really support it.” He poked Sarawat’s chest.

Sarawat nodded, “I promise I’ll be in the stands cheering for our fake cheerleader sons and our fake soccer playing daughter. Okay?” Sarawat promised. Tine folded his arms over his chest. Sarawat leaned in and kissed the tip of his nose. “So cute when you pout.”

“Shut up! Don’t make me smile when I’m annoyed with you.” Tine grinned and pulled out of Sarawat’s grasp. He moved and walked into the kitchen, “I’ll help you cook tonight.” He called out as Sarawat stood in the living room watching after him.

“Okay.” He rubbed his fingers against his cheeks. They were sore from him smiling so much. “Just don’t burn anything this time,” he called out and ducked when a dish towel went flying at him. Chuckling, he walked into the kitchen to cook dinner with his husband.


The fragrant smell of spices wafted through the condominium as the spicy shrimp soup on the stove continued to simmer. Sarawat glanced at the dinner from the corner of his eyes as he washed his hands thoroughly at the sink as he attempted to get rid of the smell of seasoning and shrimp from his skin. He watched as his husband grabbed four bowls from the cupboard on the left and placed them on the counter. Tine moved beside Sarawat, kissed him on the cheek and dug into their cutlery drawer at the right of Sarawat’s hip for some spoons and forks. Sarawat’s heart fluttered as he mulled over their month of living in a cocoon of love. It was something that he had never experienced before and he wasn’t quite ready to let it go, but Tine had convinced him that they needed to slowly emerge from their cocoon and invite people over again. They hadn’t purposefully tried to isolate themselves from their families and friends. He just assumed it was something that happened during a honeymoon phase of any relationship. He couldn’t get enough of Tine. Touching him. Tasting him. Smelling him. Talking to him. Everything and anything in between that had anything to do with Tine, Sarawat was ready for it.

Well anything aside from telling the other man how deeply and madly in love with him he was. That, he just couldn’t do. He always wondered what Tine was thinking as he often caught the other man watching him with a dazed expression, his round cheeks rosy as he blushed. Or even the fact that Tine was now initiating being intimate with him in more ways than one, was definitely encouraging  Sarawat to take the plunge and finally lay it all out on the table. But every time that his confession was at the tip of his tongue, he froze up and kissed Tine deeply instead. It was safe to say that Tine received many long and passionate kisses because of that. Fortunately for Sarawat, many of those kisses transitioned into multiple bouts of sex, whenever or wherever they were in the condo. The most surprising location was on their coffee table, which had been Tine’s idea, but he had never explained why. Sarawat chuckled to himself at the memory and wiped his dripping hands on the towel hanging off the handle of the oven. Tine was ripping sheets of paper towel to put beside the bowls as Sarawat moved behind him and pressed his chest to Tine’s back leaving them flush against each other. He placed his chin on Tine’s shoulder and slid his hands on to the counter in front of them.

He could hear Tine giggle, “What time are they coming again?” He asked. Sarawat narrowed his eyes. He was all for inviting people back into his apartment since they had been pretty M.I.A, but he hated the fact that their first guests were going to be his brother and his boyfriend. Sarawat loved his brother, he’d kill for him, but he despised the boyfriend more than anything. Something about him just rubbed him wrong and had caused more than a few fights between the brothers.

Sarawat nuzzled the tip of his nose against Tine’s neck and sighed, “Twenty minutes or something.” Tine tilted his neck to the side to let Sarawat continue. Through their month of exploration, Sarawat had discovered many sensitive spots along Tine’s body that seemed to drive the other man crazy whenever he touched him in those places. The biggest one had been Tine’s neck. Tine had it a bit easier than Sarawat, no matter where he touched him Sarawat would be turned on simply because it was Tine who was doing it.

“Okay.” Tine said in a breathy tone. Sarawat could see that he was struggling to maintain his composure as he started to graze his lips over the side of Tine’s neck. Sarawat pushed his body more firmly against Tine. “Wat.” Tine whined before he drew a sharp breath.

“Yea?” He mumbled out as he gently pulled the skin between his lips, leaving pink marks along the fair skin.

“They’re-,” Tine sighed as Sarawat’s tongue began tracing circles over the pink marks, “going to be here soon.”

Sarawat ground his hips against Tine’s ass, “Mhm, so?”

Tine brought his left shoulder up to block Sarawat from continuing his torturous teasing and turned around in the small space to face him, “So, I’m really not looking forward to greeting my brother in law with a huge boner!” He rolled his eyes and grinned before pushing the other man away. He walked towards the fridge and grabbed a bottle of wine that he had bought.

Sarawat licked his bottom lip, “Give me five minutes and the boner will be taken care of.”

Tine laughed and grabbed some solo cups from a bag on top of the fridge, he hadn’t realised they didn’t have any wine glasses when he bought the wine since they weren’t really wine people. Sarawat had laughed at him when he told him what happened. “You’re such a pervert.”

“Oh, I’m the pervert? Want me to bring up what you asked me to do to you last week on the couch,” Sarawat challenged.

Tine’s ears grew red and he tapped Sarawat playfully on the chest, “If you ever want to see me naked again, you better shut up!”

Sarawat grinned and wrapped his arms around his husband’s waist, pulling him close “We can do that again right now if you want.” He said in a low voice. Tine opened his mouth to say something and then closed his mouth just as quickly.

“Maybe after your brother leaves,” Tine assented and pressed a quick kiss to Sarawat’s lips. “Now let me go you ass.” Sarawat beamed at him and Tine grabbed the stacked cups and the bottle of wine to bring to the living room.  It was good timing because Sarawat got a call from the intercom downstairs.

“Hey?” He said into his cell.

“Hey bro, we’re here!” Sarawat gave a small smile at the sound of his brother’s voice and pressed the number five to let them in. He clicked off his phone and shoved it into his pocket before turning off the soup and covering it with the lid.

“You said twenty minutes idiot! What if we were doing something?” Tine called into the kitchen from the living room. Sarawat grinned as he walked out to stand beside him.

“Then we’d have to pretend the buzzer was broken.” Sarawat responded.

Tine narrowed his eyes and shook his head, “You’re the worst.” Sarawat pouted and pressed his hand to his chest in feign hurt. Tine rolled his eyes and leaned over to kiss him on the cheek. “Such a baby.” A knock came at their door and Tine moved to open it.

“Hey bro!” Sarawat heard his brother say to Tine as Tine moved back to let them in. Phukong reached out and gave Tine a warm hug before he moved on to his brother and hugged him as well, “Hey other bro.” Phukong leaned back and smiled happily at Sarawat.

“Hey. You cut your hair?” Sarawat reached out and pulled at the shorter tresses on his brother’s head.

“Yea, it kept getting in my eye when I was trying to do my building designs, so I was like fuck it. I’m chopping it off.” Phukong dragged his fingers through the shorter haircut.

“You look like a hedgehog.” Sarawat teased and his brother slapped his shoulder.

“Wow fuck you, I look like a hedgehog and I’m still the hotter brother so whatever asshole.” The two brothers smiled fondly at each other. “I know you’ve missed me.”

Sarawat shrugged, “Eh maybe.” He looked up and saw Tine standing awkwardly with Phukong’s boyfriend Mil. Mil was staring at Tine, but Tine was staring at Sarawat. What’s happening there? “Mil.” Sarawat said as the only form of acknowledgment that the other man was there.

Mil slowly turned his gaze to smirk at Sarawat, “Wat, I was just telling Tine that he really changed up the place since the last time I was here. It looks like he’s going to actually be staying here permanently.” He walked towards Sarawat and handed over a pie that he was holding in his hands, “For you two.” Sarawat narrowed his eyes at the initial comment. What the fuck did that mean? “Thanks.” He took the pie and glanced at Tine whose face was scrunched up in confusion. “Have a seat.” He gestured to the couch and took the pie into the kitchen before he came back out to find Tine and Phukong sitting on the couch and Mil sitting in the armchair by himself.

Sarawat could tell that Tine was uneasy and sat down between him and his brother. He put his hand on Tine’s thigh. Tine gave him a small smile and angled his body towards the two guests. “How have you guys been? Have you done anything exciting?”

Phukong shook his head, “Not really, we’ve been mostly focusing on work and seeing each other when we’re not too busy.” Phukong glanced at Mil, “I mean I guess it helps that we’re both architects, so we do a lot of bonding over our projects.”

Tine nodded, “Ah. Yea, we’ve been really busy with work too, but out jobs are pretty different so we don’t get a lot of overlap.”

Mil chuckled and they turned their attention on to him, “What do you do again Wat?” He asked condescendingly.

Sarawat stared at him and did his best to answer calmly, “I’m a political analyst for government agencies.”

Mil nodded and continued to antagonize Sarawat, “Your dad get you that job?” Sarawat narrowed his eyes.

“No, I applied for it and did interviews like anyone else.”

Mil shrugged, “Yea, but they probably know who your dad is though right?” What the fuck are you getting at you weasel?

Sarawat leaned forward and Tine put his hand on his leg and squeezed it, “Maybe. Do you think Phukong got his job through our dad too?” Sarawat stared at him accusingly. Phukong looked between his boyfriend and his brother, his brow wrinkled.

“No, because your brother is actually talented,” Mil snidely responded, “He can get a job on his merit alone.” You fucking asshole. Sarawat moved to stand up and Tine put his hand on his chest and pushed him back down.

“How about we have something to drink? We have beer and wine,” Tine offered as he looked around and Sarawat turned to look at him. He needed to focus his attention on something positive right now, “Maybe we can put a pin in the whole work topic.”

“Yea I agree.” Sarawat heard Phukong say from over his shoulder.

“Tine, you’re a really good host. I can see why Wat would do anything to lock you in. I’ll have some wine.” Mil stated. Sarawat whipped his head in the other man’s direction and saw him smiling smugly at Sarawat. There it was again, a backwards compliment.

“The fuck does that mean?” Sarawat could feel his body starting to get hot. He fucking hated this guy. The shit stain had toyed with his brother for years before he even gave Phukong a chance.

Mil held out his solo cup for Tine to pour the wine into it. Tine watched him for a second before he opened the bottle and poured the alcohol into the cup. “I just meant that Tine’s a great catch, I can see why you asked him to marry you. Was I wrong for saying that?” Mil shrugged and brought the cup to his lips.

“Mil, you should be careful how you word things.” Phukong warned him as he turned to look at his partner.

Mil put his hand up in surrender, “Sorry I forgot that Sarawat was sensitive. I’ll try harder to remember that.”

“I’m sensitive?” Sarawat countered, he opened his mouth to say something else but was interrupted by Tine.

“Hey, let’s just relax guys. You know, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen you and it’s just cool to catch up.” Sarawat could tell that Tine was just trying to stop him from blowing up, but it was only somewhat working. “Wat, let’s grab the soup.” Tine stood up and grabbed Sarawat’s hand dragging him up to stand with him. Sarawat turned to stare at Mil as the other man smiled happily into his cup. Sarawat was ready to beat the shit out of him. He followed Tine into the kitchen and they stared at each other.

“What the fuck.” Sarawat growled under his breath. “Did you hear that fucking asswipe?”

Tine rubbed his hands down Sarawat’s arms, “I’m sorry that I suggested this. Is he normally like that?”

Sarawat shook his head. They both had always made it clear that they didn’t like each other, but Mil was on some kind of power trip tonight.

“No.” Sarawat admitted and chewed his lip nervously. Something was going on, that much was clear.

Tine nodded, “Okay, let’s just get the soup, suck it up for your brother and then get Mil the hell out.” He cupped Sarawat’s face and pressed a chaste kiss to his lips before letting him go, “And then after they leave we can do that thing we did on the couch the last time.” He teased and smiled at Sarawat. One corner of Sarawat’s lips tugged up. He loved this man. He took a deep breath.

“Alright.” He grabbed the soup ladle and dished out the soup before carrying two bowls out to the men in the living room. Mil was standing with his cup in his hand staring at their wedding portrait on the wall.

“Wow, this actually looks so real.” Mil mused out loud, “Like picture perfect.” Phukong narrowed his eyes and took a bowl from his brother.

“What do you mean actually looks real?” Phukong questioned, obviously confused by his boyfriend’s comment. “It is real, it’s a real picture. We were there.”

Mil turned and smirked as his eyes settled on Sarawat, “Like you can reach in and touch them, kind of thing.” Sarawat carelessly plopped Mil’s bowl of soup on to the coffee table, splashing some of the liquid. Mil and Sarawat stared at each other. His heart was racing and he could hear his breathing coming out in huffs. If he had been a dragon, he knew he would be breathing fire out right about now. “Thanks.” Mil grinned and sat down in the armchair again.

Sarawat sat down as well and took a bowl from Tine, but placed it down onto the coffee table. He had lost his appetite. At this point he just wanted his brother’s boyfriend to get the fuck out. Tine spooned some of the soup into his mouth and chewed. He hummed in pleasure as he ate.

“Sarawat made the soup, he’s a really amazing cook.” Tine complimented him.

Phukong nodded as he ate the soup too, “Yea, I was telling Mil that Sarawat would make the best lunches for me sometimes when we were growing up. If he didn’t go into poli sci he should have done culinary arts or music.” Sarawat gave his brother a small smile. He was disappointed that his amazing baby brother had managed to get stuck with enemy number one. He just didn’t get it.

“Oh? Well at least you’re getting something out of this arrangement thenTine.” Mil chimed in before eating his soup. Both Sarawat and Tine whipped their heads in the man’s direction. Tine’s spoon dropped into the soup with a loud plop. It sunk all the way into the bowl. Sarawat’s heart stopped. What did he just say? Does he know? No, he couldn’t.

“Shit.” Tine cursed and put the bowl down to pull out the spoon. “Uh, what does that even mean?” He heard Tine ask.

Mil continued to eat the soup and gave them a look of surprise, “Hm? I mean, you got lucky to get married to Wat since his cooking is so good.” He chuckled, “Phukong and I eat out all the time because we can’t cook to save our lives right hun?” Mil patted his boyfriend’s knee. Phukong nodded in silence as he continued to eat. Mil smiled and ate more of the soup, “You guys really seem on edge tonight.”

Tine forced a laugh and nervously glanced at Sarawat, “No, we’re just tired.”

Mil tutted, “I bet. Wearing two faces would make me exhausted too. Oh sorry I mean two hats, working hat and then your family hat. It’s a lot to juggle isn’t it?”

Phukong whipped his head at his boyfriend, “Mil, you’re being an asshole right now. Spit out what you’re getting at or shut the hell up.” He gritted out through his teeth.

“Woah! I’m just trying to be understanding of their struggles and you’re calling me an asshole.” The smirk slid off of his face as he looked at his partner, “Way to support me Phukong.” Mil chastised him. Phukong bit his lip and shook his head.

“I need to use the bathroom.” He got up and walked away to the bathroom. Sarawat turned to look at Tine and noticed that his face had gone pale.

“I need some water,” Tine pushed himself up from the couch and walked to the kitchen. Before Sarawat could say anything else, his phone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket and saw that it was his mom. Without excusing himself from leaving Mil, he got up and went to the bedroom.

“Hey mom.” He greeted her.

“Hey sweetie, your brother’s there with you right?”

Sarawat nodded, “Yep.”

“Okay, can you please ask him to swing by the house on his way home? I grabbed some of those snacks he likes and figured he could grab them tonight.”

“Sure mom.”

“Thanks, you guys having fun?”

Sarawat chewed the inside of his cheek in annoyance. He couldn’t do this right now. “Got to go. Love you.”

“Love you too.” He hung up the phone and walked back into the living room, but Mil was gone. Sarawat could hear talking come from the kitchen. He moved to the hall by the kitchen entrance and listened.

“You don’t have to be with this guy. You don’t really know who he is or what’s he capable of. His brother might be blind to it. All of fucking Thailand might be blind to it. But Tine, you can see he’s not what he appears to be.” He heard Mil whisper.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Please move out of my way.” Tine replied.

“Do you think he actually cares about you? He doesn’t, I can help you. I have a plan.” Mil’s tone was harsh.

“What the hell?” Sarawat could hear Tine’s voice trembling, “Get the fuck away from me.” Sarawat flew around the corner and found Tine wedged in a corner between the counters.

Mil was cornering him in and leaning in close. Sarawat snapped. There was a ringing in his ears and for the first time in his life he actually saw red. He lunged forward and grabbed Mil by the back of his shirt and pulled him back hard. Mil stumbled but caught himself as he stared at the two of them.

“Big mistake putting your hands on me you asshole.” Mil sneered. “I’ll fucking end you.”

Sarawat’s breathing sped up, “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE!” He yelled as Phukong came running into the kitchen.

“Woah, wait what’s happening?” Phukong asked in a panic, “What happened?”

“Get him the fuck out of my house or I’ll kill him. I’m not kidding.” Sarawat exploded and looked at his brother. Phukong grabbed Mil’s arm and pulled him out of the kitchen. The other man started laughing as Sarawat followed after them. Tine ran beside him and stood in front of Sarawat. “Tine move.” Sarawat instructed.

Tine shook his head, “No.” He put his hand on Sarawat’s chest, “Stop. They’re going.” Tine looked over his shoulder at the two men putting on their shoes.

Phukong frantically opened the door and pulled at Mil who was trying to square up to Sarawat. Sarawat moved forward, but Tine grabbed his forearms and pushed him backwards.

“Mil, let’s go!” Phukong tried to step in front of him to push his boyfriend out instead of pulling on him.

“I have a joke for you Wat!” Mil grinned as he resisted Phukong, “What does your car and libraries have in common?” Sarawat’s stomach churned as he watched the other man. Tine turned his head to look over his shoulder at Mil. Mil cackled before his expression became sinister, “They both have great reading material. You just have to know where to find it.”

“Mil stop it!” Phukong shoved the man into the hallway and closed the door behind them. Sarawat and Tine stared at the door in silence. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Sarawat walked to the door and locked it. He placed his forehead against the cool wood and swallowed down the nausea that had taken over. He definitely knows. Mil fucking knew about their arrangement. He had to have seen the contract in Sarawat’s car. He wracked his brain. When did Mil have access to his car? Shit, Phukong had borrowed it a few days before Tine’s stripper fiasco. That fucking asshole has known all this time? Did he have proof? Could it be his word against Sarawat’s? The contract had still been in the car before the wedding when he gave it to Tine. Shit, could he have pictures of it? His mind whirred and whirred as he tried to figure out what kind of situation they were in. Was he going to blackmail him? Did Phukong know? Was his little brother a part of this? Had Tine mentioned his dad in the contracts? No, he didn’t remember seeing anything about him in it. Right?

“Wat?!” Tine yelled and jolted him out of his thoughts.  Sarawat turned around slowly and stared at his husband. From where he stood he could see that Tine was shaking, “He knows right? About us?”

Sarawat had failed. He was supposed to protect Tine and Tine’s family, but his carelessness had screwed them over. He hadn’t even thought about how problematic it would be to leave the contracts in his car. How could he have known that Mil was this evil? Prominent lines formed between his eyebrows and his gaze moved to his feet. He had to fix this. He looked back up at his husband’s worried face, “Tine, I think I fucked up.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Twelve: Whiplash

 

The soft strumming of the guitar soothed Tine’s nerves as he lay on their couch, his bare feet tucked underneath the warmth of Sarawat’s sweatpants covered thighs. His forearm draped over his eyes in an attempt to block out the light of the world. Not surprisingly, the couple had barely slept the past two nights after their altercation with Phukong and Mil. Once Sarawat had explained what had happened, Tine couldn’t contain the anger he felt. How could Sarawat have been so dumb to leave the contracts in his car? Had Tine not warned him? Hadn’t he told him how important they were, just for Sarawat to lull him into a false sense of security that he had now proven he couldn’t guarantee? He had wanted to scream at the other man, call him names, and say hurtful things. But Tine merely stood there, his eyes welling up as unshed tears overflowed and streamed down his reddened face. He knew it wouldn’t have been fair of him to lash out, it was an honest mistake. So Tine pushed down his anger and hoped it would just subside over time. As he stood there blubbering, Sarawat had tried to touch him, to console him, but Tine wanted none of that. He had just wanted to sit down on the couch and bawl his eyes out. What were they going to do? What the fuck was Mil going to do? His mind had raced, feeding into the anxiety he already had. He had grabbed his laptop and scoured through the contract to make sure that he hadn’t mentioned anything about his father’s financial situation. After confirming that he hadn’t, he focused on the rest of the document and what he had outlined within it. There were mentions of the dissolution of their marriage after a year, allotted payments, stipulations of what was permitted as well as expected within the marriage, repayment strategies, as well as some other legal jargon.

 To an outsider’s perspective, Tine would probably appear to be Sarawat’s live in boy toy or at the very least his servant with no emotional attachments based on the documents. Both options weren’t ideal, but Tine was merely relieved that even if their fake marriage was exposed no one could tie it to his father’s previously failing business. He glanced over at the man wordlessly strumming the guitar, playing a song that Tine didn’t recognize. After Tine had finally calmed down from his frantic scouring of files, Sarawat had suggested that maybe Tine would feel more comfortable if they slept apart. He had offered to sleep in the guest room if Tine felt more comfortable in the masters. Something inside Tine snapped. He had accused the other man of trying to push him away and had embarrassingly broken down sobbing in front of his husband.

Sarawat had pulled him into a hug and moved them to the bedroom where they quietly laid down as Tine continued to cry. After he had stopped hiccupping and sniffing, Sarawat had massaged his head and they discussed what their plan of action needed to be. Since they didn’t have to worry about Tine’s father, they would have to come up with a reason as to why Tine would willingly enter a false marriage that clearly had something to do with money. As they curled up into each other, their foreheads pressed against the others, they couldn’t think of a single thing that made any sense. They both had lain like that, facing each other, not quite sleeping, until the sun rose the next morning. The day after was spent silently watching TV and constantly checking their phones to see if anything about them had come out. Tine had tried his best to talk out his anxiety, but Sarawat had merely sat and listened to whatever he had to say without offering much of his own feelings. Tine knew that the other man was beating himself up about the situation, so he didn’t pry or ask him to share. He had been content that Sarawat was at least there with him as he worked through his own concerns. Now here they were, on the couch again, but this time they were too exhausted to speak after having two days of their nerves on edge. Sarawat looked over at Tine. They stared at each other for a moment, before Tine covered his eyes once again with his arm.

“We can’t live like this Wat. We need to make a move. Confront that asshole.” Tine spoke out as Sarawat continued to play the song, “Maybe we can hire the guard who attacked me to take care of him.”

“If you’re being serious, my dad probably knows a few guys.” Sarawat said softly as he stopped playing and unconsciously dragged his fingers over the strings. Tine moved his arm and looked at him.

“We can’t kill him,” Tine paused, “Can we?” Sarawat looked over at him and shook his head no, “Damn it.” Tine chewed on his bottom lip, “What if he just suddenly went missing? Or got into an accident that crippled him? Or what if he found a horse head in his bed? That’d send a really strong message wouldn’t it?” He watched as Sarawat put the guitar down against the side of the couch.

“No more mafia movies for you.” Sarawat offered Tine a small tired smile and squeezed the other’s knee.

Tine pouted and then yawned, “But why? They’re so good.”

Sarawat frowned, “Because my sweet innocent naive little buffalo just asked if we should kill Mil.”

“Yea, but then I said the thing about a harmless accident when I really wanted to say we should put him in cinderblock shoes and have him sleep with the fishes, but,” He pointed to Sarawat, “I didn’t.” Tine placed his index fingers against his temples and rubbed them in a circular motion. “Maybe we should tell your dad.”

“Sure, but how do we explain our fake marriage?” Sarawat questioned, “We’ve looked at this every way and every scenario makes you look desperate for money. But it still doesn’t make sense.” Sarawat lifted Tine’s legs up and stretched them out over his lap, “If you just wanted my money and I wanted you for whatever reason, why did we get married for it?”

Tine groaned. He knew that Sarawat was right, but having no one to turn to for help made him feel even more trapped in the situation. “True, we could have just done our thing on the side,” he reflected.

Sarawat nodded, “And why would we make everything so public?”

Tine shrugged, “To make it seem appropriate I guess.” He answered and stared at Sarawat. Everything just seemed a lot more confusing without being able to use his dad’s financial ruin as motivation for the marriage.

“I guess. But then why not just date? Why would we even have a contract? Why repay me?” Sarawat continued to voice his thoughts out loud. “I mean, what we do in private is our business. But we don’t know what that moron is even going to do.”

“Well we agreed that we’re not going to let him blackmail us right?” Tine clarified.

“Right. Just go to the police.” Sarawat confirmed.

“Exactly, so I don’t know what other way he could use them against us.” Tine crossed his legs at the ankle and Sarawat slowly smoothed his hand over Tine’s thigh. “Maybe he just wanted to scare us? Maybe he won’t even do anything with them.” Tine suggested.

Sarawat’s eyes narrowed, “No, he’s going to do something.” He glanced at Tine, “Remember he told you he had a plan.”

Tine swallowed hard as he thought back to the situation in the kitchen. It had been terrifying getting cornered like that, especially since it was his brother in laws boyfriend doing it. “Yea. He kept saying he was going to get me out of this.” He looked at Sarawat, “I don’t know why, but he really hates you.”

“I don’t know either. I mean, I know why I hate him.” Sarawat shrugged, “No idea what his deal is.” Sarawat’s phone began to vibrate against the table. Tine watched as he frowned at it and answered.

“Yea?”

“Hey, it’s me. Can I come up?” Tine heard Phukong’s shaky voice through the phone.

“Yea for sure.” Sarawat answered and pressed the number five on his phone. He hung up and looked at Tine. Tine immediately sat up and glanced at the door. Sarawat got up, unlocked the door, opened it, and peered into the hallway. Tine watched him slowly step back as his brother stood in the doorframe. Tine jumped up when he saw how red and puffy Phukong’s eyes were. His face was as white as paper.

“Wat.” Was all Phukong managed to say as his voice broke. Sarawat reached out and pulled his younger brother into a hug. The brothers embraced each other tightly, phukong’s face buried against Sarawat’s shoulder. Tine stepped behind them and closed the door so that people couldn’t look in. As he heard Phukong’s stifled sobs, he felt like someone had poured cement into his stomach. Whatever had brought the younger man there clearly wasn’t anything good. Phukong stepped back from his brother and wiped his eyes with the back of his hands. He took a deep breath and looked at his brother and then over at Tine. His brow was wrinkled and his eyes narrowed, “Are you guys pretending to be married?”He asked.  Tine’s jaw dropped. Fuck.

 After they had explained their arrangement, Phukong stared at them as if they were absolutely insane.  His red rimmed eyes bugged out of his head and his mouth had gone slack as Tine watched him shake his head in utter disbelief. Both Tine and Sarawat watched him quietly, not wanting to say anything else that could absolutely blow his mind. For what seemed like the first time in minutes, Phukong slowly blinked and closed his mouth, pressing his lips into a firm line. “Okay, so let me get this straight.” He paused and cleared his throat, “Your dad was about to lose his store and the house.” Phukong looked at Tine and Tine nodded his head, “Okay and then you heard about it through our mom and dad and had this brilliant idea that you should marry Tine to help Tine’s family,” He looked at Sarawat, who in turn just stared at his brother, “And then you guys had this fake relationship up until a month ago and now you’re dating?” He glanced between the two of them and Sarawat and Tine looked at each other. Were they dating? Could you date someone while you were married to them? Tine frowned, since the night they kissed he had just been thinking of Sarawat as his husband, but was he really just his boyfriend? Thinking of Sarawat as his husband seemed a lot more secure than thinking of him as just a man that he was seeing who he just happened to be legally married to. Tine wasn’t sure why, but the thought of it made him feel really uncomfortable. It was as if some form of stability that he had felt initially in this relationship was no longer there. He felt as insecure about it as he had when he had made up the whole roommate love situation which he could now look back on and call it bullshit. Tine looked at the other man and tried to assess what he might have been thinking. Maybe Sarawat didn’t feel like they were just dating, maybe he viewed Tine as his husband too.

Sarawat studied Tine’s expression, “I guess? We’re not really putting labels on it.” Sarawat slowly confirmed this to his brother as he continued to watch Tine’s face.  Oh, so that’s how he feels. Something in Tine’s stomach churned and he couldn’t truly understand why, so just like the anger he had felt towards Sarawat earlier, he pushed this new bad feeling down too. Tine nodded and looked at his brother in law.

“Yea, something like that.” Tine agreed and then looked down at his hands. Why didn’t Sarawat just say that Tine was his husband? Or at the very least his boyfriend? Was he not really into this as much as he had previously thought? Was Tine even really into this? Stop it. It’s just a word. Husband, boyfriend, it doesn’t matter. Right? He’d just consider Sarawat his boyfriend for now and then maybe they could work their way up to something else. Tine looked up again and found Sarawat staring at him, his face was scrunched up in slight confusion. Tine turned his attention to his brother in law. “Alright, so we told you all of our shit. What does that asshole boyfriend of yours want from us? He obviously told you about the arrangement for a reason.”

Phukong sighed and wrung his hands, “Asshole ex boyfriend.” He shrugged and his eyes started to well up again, “That fucking dick said he hates you.” He looked at his brother, “He’s hated you for a long time, but he said that for me he would try his best to at least be civil with you. And it bothered me, but then I knew you didn’t like him either, so I just accepted that this was the way that it was going to be and as long as you and I were good then whatever.” Phukong adjusted himself in the armchair. “But over the past year, he’s gotten a lot worse.” Phukong shook his head and his hands became more animated as he spoke. “He kept trying to poison you in my eyes and it just wasn’t working, he constantly accused me of siding with my family over him and said that was the reason why he hadn’t proposed to me yet.” Tears slid down his cheeks. Tine jumped up from the couch and brought back a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom to hand to Phukong. Phukong took it and lightly chuckled at the roll, “Thanks.” A long exhale escaped his lips as he dabbed at his eyes, “He said he’d never marry me if I didn’t accept that you were a crappy person. So I broke up with him. This happened like months before you two came out about your engagement. But then he randomly called me up one day and said that he was sorry, that he was going to try harder to get along with you.”

Tine glanced over at Sarawat and saw that his hands were clenched tightly into fists and a prominent vein was visible on the side of his neck. Tine knew that the other man must have been really mad. “Turns out he was just using me so that he could still have access to you. He just kept saying something seemed off about your relationship with Tine.” He frowned, “Remember that day my car broke down before you guys got married?” Phukong turned to his brother and Sarawat again just silently stared, “Mil was the one who told me to borrow your car. I wanted to borrow his, but he said his was wonky too. So that’s why I asked you and of course, you said yea.”

“He fucking planned all of this.” Sarawat said through gritted teeth and sprung up from the couch. Tine watched him as he paced back and forth in the space in front of the TV.

Tine could see Phukong nod from the corner of his eyes, “Yea, he did. He told me after we left here that he found a contract and a prenup in your car, that your relationship wasn’t real.” Phukong bit his lip and wrinkled his brow, “He showed me pictures of it and it just didn’t make sense to me, I asked him why would they lie about it and he said because there was some shady shit happening and it was all going to come out.” Sarawat stopped pacing and glanced at Tine who in turn glanced back at him. It was all going to come out? Did Mil know more than they did? Phukong continued, “I stopped the car on the side of the road and told him to get the fuck out. He said ‘whatever, I already got what I needed from you’ and got out. That was the last time I saw him.” He finished and looked at the other men. “He’s going to try to embarrass you with this.”

Tine swallowed hard, “How?”

Phukong shrugged, “I don’t know, but he’s going to go big with it. He wants to cripple you.” He turned his face to his brother, “I don’t think he cares too much about Tine. His attention is on you. He’s always said he thought you were entitled.”

Sarawat threw his hands up in the air, “Why?! What did I ever do to that moron?”

“Nothing.” Phukong wiped at his eyes a bit more, “But I know why he has it out for you. He told me that he was doing this for us.” Tine and Sarawat looked at Phukong, “When I asked him in the car why he had done it, he said that he did it for me and I needed to be grateful for all that he had done.” Phukong chewed on the side of his lip.

“What?” Sarawat placed his hands on his hips. “What the hell does that mean? He did it for you?”

 “He did it so that he could get you out of the way as the next in line for the company. He wanted me to become the next CEO of dad’s business, and said I deserved it more.” Phukong blew his nose, “I’m sorry bro. I really didn’t see how messed up he was.” Tine moved closer to his brother in law and patted his knee. “I don’t recognize him anymore. I don’t know how to stop him.” Phukong admitted.

“You have nothing to be sorry about Phukong. You’re as much a victim of this guy as we are.” Tine tried to comfort him as Sarawat continued to stew in his anger. Tine’s phone began to vibrate in his pocket. He pulled it out and glanced at the caller ID. Fong? He thought about declining it, but something told him not to.

“Hello?”

“Tine, turn on the news right now!” Fong’s voice was frantic, which scared Tine. He never heard his friend sound like that before. “Channel 430!”

“Okay, okay. Hold on.” Tine grabbed the remote from the table, turned on the television, and pressed in that channel. As he was on the phone he could hear beeping alerting him of another call on the line. He looked and saw that it was his brother calling him. Tine sent it to voicemail and looked at their local news network.

“Tine what the fuck is going on?” Tine could hear Fong speaking as the phone slipped out of his hand and plopped on to his lap. The sound of another beep let him know that Fong had hung up. His eyes had grown wide and his jaw dropped as he watched pictures of him and Sarawat pop up and transition to different ones of them. The headline on the bottom read ‘Breaking News: Marriage sham for one of Thailand’s wealthiest’. Tine’s hand flew to his mouth and his stomach lurched as Sarawat walked over to him and took the remote out of his hand to turn up the volume. Oh my god, fuck, fuck!

“Shit.” Sarawat muttered under his breath. They watched in horror as a news correspondent spoke about them on their TV. Images of their contract flashed across the screen in addition to pictures from their wedding and public outings. Sarawat reached out and placed his hand on Tine’s knee, in what Tine assumed was a way to comfort him.

News Correspondent (NC):

“People are in absolute shock about the appearance of these documents. What do they mean? Why would Mr. Guntithanon and Mr. Teepakorn agree to only be married for a year and what is all of this about monetary exchange? Things like marital expectations are listed here, such as attending family events together, establishing a media presence, and sharing meals together are some of what is contained in these contracts. There are constant mentions of an arrangement listed and suggestions of repayments from Mr. Teepakorn to Mr. Guntithanon.” The news correspondent shook her head, “It has left everyone confused, so we hope that the man who released these images will be able to clear some things up for us. Mr. Sivakorn, are you there with us?”

A video call with Mil popped up beside the news correspondent. He was smiling brightly at the camera and was holding an envelope in his hands.

“That fucking bastard.” Phukong shouted at the television, “I can’t believe it.” Tine’s eyes refused to budge from the screen, he needed to hear every single thing the other man was about to say.

Mil:

“Hi there, yes I’m here. Thank you so much for having me here with you today.”

NC:

“No thank you for being available to come on. So, what are these contracts, what can you tell us about all of this?”

Mil:

“Well I used to date Sarawat’s younger brother and I just didn’t feel right about Sarawat. Something just always seemed off about him. He was always lurking around not doing much, not saying much and my experiences with men like those are that they always have some dark secrets and are just trying to lay low.” He cleared his throat and drank from a cup he had grabbed from the table, “Excuse me, as I was saying, Sarawat just didn’t seem like a genuine person. I tried to warn people that were close to me, I tried to warn his brother about him, but people just thought I was crazy.” He held up the envelope and smiled triumphantly into the camera, “But then after a lot of digging and a lot of patience I located these documents and I firmly believe that this is the evidence that people needed to see how shady and manipulative Sarawat is. He’d do anything to get what he wants.”

NC:

“Wow, I cannot believe that. Mr. Sivakorn, how do you feel that these contracts prove what you have said about Mr. Guntithanon? They’re pretty damning that his marriage seems to be a farce, but how does that prove that he is manipulative? Based on these documents, this bizarre marriage seems to be between consensual adults for whatever reasons that they had.”

Mil:

“To an outsider yes, but I personally feel that Mr. Teepakorn is a naive young lawyer, who was stupid enough to fall into the trap of a man who holds a lot of wealth and a lot of power. Prior to this marriage there had been absolutely no evidence that these two men were in any kind of relationship with each other. The most people could dig up about them is that their families were friends, other than that there are no pictures of them dating each other or even being in the same space as the other.”

NC:

“Mr. Sivakorn, I am sorry to interrupt, but that does not mean that these two did not have a secret relationship outside of the public eye.”

Mil:

“Sure, but then why be secretive about it all that time and then suddenly they’re everywhere holding hands and being all lovey dovey. Listen, it’s all crap, I’m one hundred percent sure that Tine is a straight man being held financially hostage by his fake husband. Sarawat manipulated Tine into this ridiculous marriage arrangement by waving a wad of cash under his nose. I’m not saying that Tine is a gold digger or sugar baby, so I hope no one takes what I’m saying out of context. All I know is that I hired a private investigator a few years ago because I needed people to see what a fraud Sarawat was and my PI was able to dig up some real juicy stuff.” Mil smiled at the camera and held up the envelope that he had been holding in his hand, “It’s all here and it’s the key to this whole puzzle.”

NC:

The news correspondent's eyebrows rose up, “Could you tell us what that might be?”

Mil:

He laughed and shook his head, “I’m going to have a news conference on Tuesday to reveal what I know about this situation and why I think Tine felt like marrying Sarawat was his only choice. I’ll just say this, Tine’s parents, specifically his father, have something to do with this. Either they forced their youngest child into this arrangement or Tine felt it was his duty. Whatever it might have been will all be revealed on Tuesday.”

Tine’s blood ran cold. Fuck. No! Fuck. He looked over at Sarawat who was now squeezing Tine’s knee even tighter. Tine could hear the grinding of the other’s teeth as his eyes remained fixed on the man on the screen. This was worse than bad. They had foolishly believed that Mil knew nothing about Tine’s father, but it seemed that he had really done his homework on their situation. Not only that, but it looked like he was going to imply that his parents had pimped their own child out for monetary gain. This was much worse than his darkest nightmares could have conjured up. Fuck, what were they going to do?

NC:

“That is heartbreaking if there’s any truth to that statement Mr. Sivakorn. Are you worried that there will be any legal ramifications for what you have done here?”

Mil:

Mil Shrugged, “I just want people to know the truth about Sarawat. I don’t care what happens to me as long as people can understand and see the opportunistic, manipulative, calculated man that he is. He doesn’t deserve to assume the role of CEO at his father’s company, he’s clearly too unstable.”

NC:

The news correspondent’s mouth dropped open, “Those are some very harsh words. Well, I guess we cannot wait to see what else you have for us on Tuesday. I also wanted to mention that while you have been on with us there’s been an outpouring of support for Sarawat from a hashtag group Team Sarawat’s Wives and some of his coworkers have even come out to say something on behalf of Sarawat.” She stared at the camera as a tweet popped up on the bottom of the screen, “This one is from Pam Burin, she says ‘This is all false, Sarawat would never do anything like this. This man is just trying to drag Sarawat’s name through the dirt and he should be ashamed of himself.’ Another one is from Oak Chanagun, he says ‘Sarawat is an amazingly hard worker. He’s especially kind and talks about his husband all the time. This whistleblower is a loser with too much time on his hands.’”

Mil:

Mil rolled his eyes and folded his arms across his chest, a smirk pulled on his lips “Good for them, they can say whatever it is they want but the truth will always come out. No matter what.”

NC:

“Thank you so much for your time Mr. Sivakorn. We look forward to speaking with you again on Tuesday.” With that, Mil waved to the camera and his video segment ended, the news correspondent looked at the camera again, “Hopefully we can have this all sorted out, but I am sure that there is going to be quite the speculation going on over the next few days.”

Sarawat turned off the TV and the three men sat there in utter disbelief as the silence filled the room. Even as Teddi came out from the bedroom and cuddled up beside them on the couch, they still sat there unmoving and silent. “Fuck Wat, what are we going to do about my dad?” Tine groaned. Sarawat put his head in his hands and bent forward, his elbows balanced on his thighs.

“I fucked this up. I’ll fix this.” He mumbled into his hands before he looked up at Tine and then away, “I’m going to ask my dad to call a press conference for me tomorrow.”

Tine’s eyes widened and then he scrunched up his face, “Why just you?”

Sarawat shrugged, “It’s better that way I think.”

Tine shook his head, “No we’re in this together Wat, we’ll do it together.”

“Look this wasn’t your fault. Tine, I need to do this by myse-“ Sarawat started saying.

“No! We do this together or we don’t do it at all!” He interrupted and stared Sarawat down. The other man shook his head and brought his hand up to massage a spot near his eye. He pulled his bottom lip between his teeth and didn’t say anything. Tine took that as a silent agreement, “Okay, so press conference tomorrow where we’ll just have to tell the truth about what we did. We need to talk to my parents tonight.” Tine rubbed a hand over his face, “So that they’re prepared.” Tine frowned and a small exhale flowed through his lips, “My dad’s going to be so embarrassed. He’s going to shut down the store and just leave, I know it.” He shook his head as the worst case scenarios played through his mind, “We’re going to publicly humiliate him in front of all of Thailand.” Tine looked up at Sarawat, who was staring off into the distance, “I hope they believe us when we tell them that my dad knew nothing about it. That it was our decision. What do you think?” He asked.

Sarawat finally glanced at him, “I don’t know.” He gave a slight shrug, “Would you believe us?” Tine stared at him and then glanced over at Phukong. Tine looked back at Sarawat and frowned.

“No. I wouldn’t.” They stared at each other in silence. Tine felt defeated. They had done this whole charade to save his father’s reputation only for them to completely humiliate him on a larger platform. It was a horrible situation that they were in, but Tine felt comfort in the fact that they would be able to explain what had happened before Mil got to reveal anything on Tuesday.

“Why do we have to say anything about your dad at all?” Sarawat said slowly, his face slowly lighting up with excitement, “The contracts in the pictures don’t even have my signature. Just the prenup.”

Tine raised a brow in confusion, “What do you mean?”

Sarawat shrugged, “We can just say the contracts are fake. We never filed them.” He looked at Tine and at his brother, “So there’s no record of them anywhere. Just the prenup was notarized.”

Tine slowly started to smile. How could they have been so stupid? In all of their anxiety and with all of the thinking, why had they not considered just denying the legitimacy of the contracts? “You’re right and the prenup was just standard, so nothing incriminating is in them.” He cupped his boyfriend’s face in his hands and pecked a series of kisses to the full lips. “You don’t say much, but you’re a fucking genius.”Sarawat smiled at him and pulled him in to kiss him back.

“You only realised this now?” Sarawat teased once he had come up for air.

“Shut up, don’t ruin the moment.” Tine rubbed the tips of their noses together and then pulled back to look at him. The man’s tousled hair and goofy grin set a fire in the pit of his stomach.

“They’re going to ask you why he would go through all of that trouble.” Phukong reminded them and interrupted their love fest from his seat.

Sarawat looked at his brother and rubbed his chin in thought, “He did it because of you. He wanted to tear me down and build you up for the business. He said it himself on television that he thinks I’m not fit for the job,” Sarawat suggested. “He planned on leeching off of you but you broke up with him so he got desperate.”  Phukong nodded. Sarawat smirked and then chuckled, “The idiot gave us the motive himself.”

“You’re right! Okay, if you need me to say anything at the press conference, let me know. I have a shit ton to tell.” For the first time since Friday afternoon, Tine felt like a slight weight had been lifted off of his shoulders. They might be able to pull this off if they were really careful about it and worked out the small details.

Tine turned to face Sarawat, “I think we should still talk to my parents just in case this doesn’t work.” Sarawat nodded in agreement.

“I’ll call my dad to set up the press conference tomorrow. Then we can go to your parent’s house.” He reached out and took Tine’s hand in his own, squeezing it lightly. “We’ll be okay.” He brought Tine’s hand up to his lips and kissed the back of it. Tine blushed and glanced down for a moment before looking up at the man he knew he was so desperately in love with.

“I think so too.”


Tine had been prepared for his father to be furious when they told him what had happened, but instead he had stated that he was very disappointed.  Which in Tine’s opinion was much worse than being mad. They sat silently and watched as the older man paced back and forth behind the couch in the living room. Tine glanced over at his mom who was staring at her husband with concerned eyes. When his dad had found out about his wife’s involvement in the whole charade, he had immediately shut down and stopped speaking to either of them. He just continued to pace with his hands clasped behind his back and his head hanging low. The feeling of elation that Tine had felt earlier was now completely extinguished as he watched how distressed his father was. If it hadn’t been for his feelings for Sarawat, he would have deeply regretted agreeing to the arrangement.

“Hun?” His mom said softly to his dad as the older man continued to move. “Please sit down.” The man continued to pace and didn’t even bother glancing in her direction. Tine swallowed and then turned his face to look at Sarawat. Sarawat’s lips were slightly parted and his eyebrows remained raised as he watched what was happening. His eyes slowly shifted to rest on Tine and his lips pressed into a firm line. Tine could tell that Sarawat felt bad about this too which helped to know that he was not alone. Sarawat had wanted to take most of the blame and explain that he was the one who had come up with the plan in the first place but Tine had advised him against it. They were a union now. They would suffer the consequences together. “Pluem, please. I think you’re scaring the boys.” At that Tine’s father stopped his pacing and turned his attention on him and Sarawat.

“They’re not boys. They are grown men who thought it would be wise to interfere in things that did not concern them and now look where they are.” His dad scolded them and then looked away, shaking his head. “I don’t even know what’s going to happen with all of this.”

Tine spoke up, “Dad, we promise we’ll make sure that your name stays out of this. We told you our idea and I think it can work.” Tine’s father stared at him which made Tine lower his eyes out of respect.

“I don’t care about me. I care about you! This man is on television saying he has this information and that information and that he despises your husband. Or whatever Sarawat is to you now.” He sighed, “And he looks absolutely unhinged, what if he doesn’t stop at just this? What if his next step is to get you fired, or hurt, or even killed! Have you thought about your safety? Weren’t you just injured in a fight?!” His father’s voice began to shake. “Your first mistake was assuming that I cared about the material things, and your mother,” He turned to look at his wife, “should have known better than to encourage you two to go through with this.”

“Dad,” Tine began.

“Don’t interrupt me.” His dad said calmly and Tine immediately closed his mouth, “The only things I care about in this world are you boys and your mother. That’s it. The store could have gone under for all I care as long as you were fine and happy. Now look at the mess that you are in,” His dad frowned as he asked, “can you honestly say that you’re happy?”

Tine swallowed and glanced at Sarawat. He wasn’t entirely sure about the other’s feelings. He knew that Sarawat liked him which was great, but how far did it go beyond that? The conversation from earlier that day played in the back of his mind. Tine spoke to his father from over the back of the couch. “I’m stressed out and really anxious, but,” He looked down at Sarawat’s hand and took it in his own. Tine looked up and gazed into Sarawat’s eyes, “if we hadn’t done this, then we wouldn’t actually be together now,” he said softly, “and being together makes me happy.” Sarawat gave Tine a shy smile and slightly ducked his head.

He turned to face his father and found him watching them. His dad sighed and moved to sit on the armchair across the room from his mother. Tine and Sarawat sat on the medium sized sofa in between the two older adults. His father rubbed a spot on his forehead and closed his eyes for a moment and then slowly opened them, “Are you telling me the truth now? Or are you just saying this so I don’t feel like my son had to sell his soul to try to save me.”

Tine grinned and looked at his mother. She still had her brow furrowed and her lips down turned as she stared at the man across from her. As if sensing her son’s eyes on her, she turned her face to look at him, “We’re telling you the truth, we’re in a relationship.”

Sarawat cleared his throat, “We know that we lied to you and everyone, but we are actually together now.” He stated in support of Tine. Tine resisted the urge to scowl. Why couldn’t the other man just say that they were dating or married? Together could mean anything. It shouldn’t have bothered him this much, but it did. The negative feelings began to bubble up again, but as he had done before, he shoved them down. Sarawat turned towards Tine’s father, “I’m honestly sorry Mr. Teepakorn.” Sarawat glanced over his shoulder at Tine and continued, “We just wanted to help, we didn’t realise it’d be putting a target on your back.” Tine squeezed his hand to reassure him.

“Moving forward I don’t want any more lies. Do you understand me?” Tine’s father leaned towards them and pointed at the other three adults in the room, “I am not fragile and I am not so proud that I cannot handle failure and disappointment, I am not a child to be coddled.” He stared at his wife, “We’ve made it thirty years together, I am not ready for it to end because we start lying to each other.” He pointed at Tine, “Do not embarrass me again. And you,” He pointed to Sarawat, “Take care of my son like you promised me you would. End this ridiculous situation with this man on the television and live a happy and drama free life.” All three adults silently nodded as Tine’s father leaned back into the armchair.

“I will take care of Tine.” Sarawat assured his father in law. “I promise.”

“Good.” Tine’s father responded. “Is there any other life altering information that I should know of before I go to bed?” He surveyed the room. Tine shook his head no. “Okay, if you can excuse me. I need to lie down.” His dad stood up and Tine pushed up from the couch to walk over to him. They stood in front of each other for a few seconds before his dad wrapped him up in his arms and patted his back, “I love you.” His dad murmured.

Tine let out a long exhale, “I love you too dad.” He knew that it would take a long time for him to rebuild his father’s trust back, but he also knew how much the other man loved him and with that love Tine knew that in time his dad would be able to forgive him.


Tine leaned heavily against a wall and stared at one of the monitors backstage at the press conference. He could see that the table where they were going to be sitting with Sarawat’s publicist had been all set up with microphones and pitchers of water. As his eyes slid over to another monitor he watched as some reporters grabbed their assigned seats while others laughed with each other near the back of the conference room. He sighed and rubbed his eyes with the bottom of his palms. If he had thought that he was tired before, then he was fucking exhausted now. For the third night in a row, he had barely slept. On top of that, he hadn’t eaten anything for breakfast in fear of being unable to keep it down despite his boyfriend’s constant nagging. Tine’s tired eyes sluggishly moved to focus on Sarawat who was speaking with his father across the room.

The couple had been woken up at four that morning to be picked up by Tine’s father in laws company car and taken to a suit shop to get fitted for new suits that were then later dropped off to them that morning. Tine tugged at the beige blazer he wore over a thick fitted white top and adjusted the white dress pants that accentuated his legs. Sarawat wore a similar outfit, but his blazer was white instead of beige and the shirt inside was taupe. No matter how tired Tine was, he could definitely say that the other man looked absolutely stunning in his outfit. Sometimes he forgot how polished Sarawat could look since he mostly saw the other man dressed up in shorts, wearing his thick ass glasses, and sporting his retainer. A woman passed by Tine with a cup in her hand and he immediately moved to the side away from her. He had made sure to steer clear of anyone drinking coffee or eating anything that could have accidentally stained his clothes. His face itched and felt heavy under the thick makeup that had been layered on to his virgin skin. He didn’t like the feel of the cream and powder on his face and he especially didn’t like the pink tinted lipstick that they put on his lips to give them a brighter colour. It frustrated him that he couldn’t even kiss Sarawat on the cheek if he had wanted to because of the potential colour transfer from his lips.

He watched as his father in law placed a hand on Sarawat’s shoulder and leaned in to say something in his son’s ear. Even from where Tine stood he could see Sarawat frown and shake his head at the older man. Sarawat’s father began scowling and pointing in Tine’s direction which immediately made him tense up. Were they arguing about him? Or was it something else? It had been extremely awkward dealing with Sarawat’s dad because his father in law didn’t know about their arrangement. He maintained that he was going to get his best lawyers to sue Mil for slander, but Tine and Sarawat couldn’t let that happen. They didn’t need any more people digging into their ruse to expose their lies again. As much as they wanted to punish Mil, they just couldn’t risk it. Sarawat turned his head to look at Tine and Tine pretended to look up at the monitors again. He didn’t want them to know that he had been watching their interaction. He swallowed hard as he saw that the conference room had filled up with various reporters from various papers and channels. Shit, that’s a lot of people. His hands began to shake so he clasped them together in an attempt to get them to stop.

“Tine.” Tine’s eyes snapped on to his husband who was now watching him intently. Tine cocked his head to the side and gave Sarawat a small grin as he assessed the makeup done on the other man. Sarawat had fought tooth and nail not to have the makeup put on him or the mousse laced into his hair, but he had clearly failed as he stood in front of Tine looking absolutely flawless.  Tine often found himself wondering why Sarawat was still even with him beyond what he was contractually obligated to. Here was this man who really could have had anyone else, but he was settling for Tine. It just didn’t make sense to him, but he guessed that sometimes you just didn’t question a good thing. But other times if something looks too good to be true, it was.

He shook himself out of his thoughts and looked at his boyfriend, “Yea?”

Sarawat reached out and took Tine’s clasped hands and separated them. He thrust a small Clementine into one of his hands, “Eat this.” Sarawat instructed him. Tine shook his head and tried to give it back to him, “If you don’t eat this, I’ll squirt it on your pants.” Sarawat threatened him with a smile on his face.

Tine sighed, “Ugh, so forceful.” He started to peel the Clementine carefully and at arm’s length from his body. Sarawat smirked and placed a feathery light kiss to Tine’s lips. Tine glanced at him and smiled widely, his heart fluttering as he took in the other man. He couldn’t wait for this to all be over so they could go home and curl up together in bed with Teddi and pass the hell out. In just a matter of days their whole worlds had been shaken and for what? Tine popped a piece of the tangy fruit into his mouth and chewed slowly. He reached out and pressed another piece of the fruit to Sarawat’s bright pink mouth. Sarawat parted his lips and sucked the treat into his mouth with a wet pop sound. Tine raised one eyebrow as he looked at him and then giggled. “That sound sounds familiar,” He remarked, trying to make a dirty joke.

Sarawat coughed as he almost choked on the fruit, “And you said I’m the perverted one.” He poked Tine playfully in the side.

“You are the perverted one.” Tine put another slice of the Clementine into his mouth, “Pervert.” He finished off and shoved the rest of the fruit in his mouth. It quickly filled up with the citrus juice, puffing out his cheeks. Sarawat smirked at him.

“That looks familiar.” He pointed to Tine’s expanded cheeks. Tine covered his mouth as he tried not to spit out the fruit while he laughed at the statement. Sarawat chuckled, “You’re right I am pretty perverted.” He admitted.

Tine swallowed, “Told you.” He glanced over at Sarawat’s dad who was talking to the publicist. She was going to be sitting out there with them and speaking on their behalf for the most part. “What did your dad say to you?” He turned his face to Sarawat.

Sarawat sighed, “He wants me to sue. He said if I don’t sue Mil, then he will.” He shook his head and his eyes narrowed, “So stubborn.” Tine frowned. What were they going to do if his father in law went through with it? They’d probably have to tell him what they did sooner rather than later.

“We’re going to have to tell him what we did.” Tine whispered so that no one besides them would hear.

Sarawat took in a deep breath and nodded before he exhaled. “I think so. Otherwise, we’re fucked,” he agreed.  The publicist approached them with a soft smile on her face.

“Alright, so we’re going to go on the stage in about one minute. Do I need to debrief you again about how this process works or do you feel confident that you understood the first time?” She inquired as she looked at them. Tine knew the rules she would do most of the talking. They could answer a question if they wished to but she encouraged them not to, and there would be some questions from the reporters at the end.

“I think we’re good.” Sarawat answered for them both and Tine nodded.

The woman smiled, “Perfect, then let’s head out shall we? Oh wait.” She paused and peered at Tine. She turned and waved at a woman standing nearby. The other woman rushed over and stood in front of them, “Can you fix his lipstick please?” The publicist pointed to Tine and he frowned. Ugh more makeup.

Sarawat put his hand up to stop the woman, “I think he’s fine. He doesn’t need anymore.”

The publicist stared at him, “Mr. Guntithanon, if this is any indication on how you intend to follow my lead during this press conference then I can assure you this will not work out.” She said firmly and pressed her lips into a tight line.

After a moment’s hesitation, Sarawat’s brow wrinkled, “Fine.” He relented and pursed his lips in annoyance. The woman who had been called over applied more lip colour to Tine’s lips and added a slight gloss. Damn it, now there’s gloss on his lips? Great.

The publicist looked at him and smiled, “Perfect, let’s go.” She headed off on to the stage. Before Sarawat followed after her, he leaned in and pressed a firm kiss to Tine’s lips, transferring a lot of the gloss to his own lips. Tine’s lips parted in surprise. Sarawat watched his expression and smirked before he trailed after the publicist. Tine followed behind him. There were endless amounts of flashes as they sat down in front of the microphones and the plethora of people sitting in front of them. The reporters held up recorders, cell phones, and their own microphones towards them. Tine was now grateful for all of the makeup on his face otherwise he was sure he would be as pale as a ghost. The small bit of fruit he had just eaten felt like it had managed to lodge itself in his throat. He began coughing and immediately poured himself a glass of water. He felt a firm hand on his back and glanced over at Sarawat. The other man’s face was scrunched up with worry. Tine offered him a nervous smile and drank some water from his cup. He really hoped that he didn’t pass out from the nerves. The publicist leaned forward to speak into the microphone, “Thank you so much for coming here today so that we may set the record straight.  I am grateful that there are still professionals such as you out there who value the truth.” She glanced at Tine and Sarawat, “Here we have Mr. Guntithanon and Mr. Teepakorn, much to the delight of their families, loved ones, friends, and for most of the public they were married about five months ago. During this time where they should be living happily as newlyweds, they are facing public slander and scrutiny from a very disgruntled and disturbed young man. I will not say his name as I refuse to give him the satisfaction of receiving more attention than he clearly is worth. This individual has created fake documents and is trying to convince others that they are real. The only document he did have that was accurate was their prenuptial agreement. Otherwise, everything else was false. This person had been dating Mr. Guntithanon’s younger brother and wished to ride on his coat tails to success. He was grooming the younger man so that he could control him. When that didn’t happen, he lashed out and spun a web of lies.” She paused for what Tine assumed was a dramatic effect, “We are here today to inform you that these two young men are very much in love with each other and had been dating in secret for a year prior to their engagement announcement.” A reporter raised their hand. The publicist pointed to him, “Yes?”

The man stood up and asked, “Why were they dating in secret if it was a happy occasion?”

“That’s a good question. Sarawat would you like to answer?” She turned to Sarawat, who in turn leaned in towards the mic.

“Tine and I grew up together. We didn’t want to get our families' hopes up in case we didn’t make it.” Sarawat lied easily. Tine was surprised that the other man’s voice hadn’t even wavered as he spoke.  He was sure he was going to have some difficulty with that.

The publicist smiled, “Thank you Sarawat. As I was saying they had grown up together and reconnected as adults. Once they realised that they had found their soulmate, they chose to be married and decided to share their love with the world.” Wow, this lady was good. Tine felt much more confident that they were going to manage to get through this unscathed. He slid his hand across the table and brushed his pinkie against Sarawat’s hand. The other man glanced down at it before his eyes travelled up to look at Tine. He gave Tine a small smile before turning his attention back to the reporters, but kept their hands touching.

Another reporter raised their hand, “Sorry when was it that they began dating?”

The publicist gave a tight lipped smile, “From their recollection they began dating roughly seventeen months ago.” Tine watched as all of the reporters scribbled down that fact.

The same reporter raised his hand again, “Excuse me, were they exclusively dating?”

The publicist leaned in and looked at Tine, “Tine would you like to answer that?”

Tine cleared his throat as best as he could, the sound of it echoed through the room, “Sorry about that.” He apologised, “Yes, we were exclusively dating.”

Another reporter raised their hand and stood up without being called on, “Mr. Teepakorn, what does exclusive mean to you?” Tine frowned. Had he used the word incorrectly?

“Um, it means that we were dating each other and no one else. It was a monogamous relationship in legal terms.” He answered.

The same reporter who had last jumped up grabbed an envelope from his seat, “Mr. Teepakorn, were you aware that during the time you have stated that you were in an exclusive monogamous relationship with Mr. Guntithanon, that he was in a sexual relationship with his co worker, a Mr. Oak Chanagun, and had been sexually intimate with him for over a number of years?” Tine’s eyes widened to the point where the whites were showing all around his pupils. His lips parted and his mouth became dry. What? What did he just say?

The publicist immediately jumped into the conversation, “Excuse me what evidence do you have sir?”

The reporter opened the envelope and pulled out ten or so different pictures. He held them up one by one. The camera’s picked up the images and they showed on the monitors to the left of Tine. He slowly turned his head and stared at the various images of Sarawat kissing Oak in back corners of rooms, in the back of a car, dancing together, with Sarawat’s arm draped over Oak’s shoulders while Oak beamed at him, and a few others of them talking close to each other. Everything in the room shifted as Tine became dizzy. He blinked quickly and then turned to look back at the reporters, he tried to school his face but he knew he looked shocked. Pressing his lips into a thin line he looked down at the table and tried to focus on that. He quickly moved his hand away from Sarawat’s. What the fuck? What the actual fuck? Shit. What? How could he? Sarawat and Oak? He lied? He fucking lied. His heart thrashed about its cavity and became deafening in his ears. He could barely hear the publicist speak again, “Where did you get these images from and when were they taken?”

The reporter stopped shuffling the pictures and looked up, “These pictures and more were taken over a period of three years and were given to me by Mr. Sivakorn, himself. There are also pictures from last year where Mr. Guntithanon and Mr. Teepakorn have said that they were in a seriously committed relationship. Do you care to comment on that?” The reporter inquired. Tine continuously swallowed his spit in an attempt to not throw up.  His brain had stopped communicating with him and if it had tried, he wasn’t sure he could hear it.

The publicist cleared her throat, “As with every couple, they have had their struggles. Tine was aware of Sarawat’s indiscretions and through love and support they were able to work through their problems and get married. However, that’s no one’s business of course.”

Everyone turned to look at the reporter with the pictures, “I see. What about this picture?” Tine glanced at the screen to the left and saw a picture of a shirtless Sarawat with his arms folded across his chest, leaning against the doorway of what seemed like a hotel room. Tine slowly realised that he recognized the picture that was hanging on the wall by the door. He had seen it when Sarawat had given him an impromptu tour of the hotel room on his last conference. In the picture Sarawat was smirking at Oak. Oak had his hand up as if he were waving goodbye to him and was looking over his shoulder back at Sarawat, a goofy smile on his face. “According to the details on the back of this picture, this was taken at two in the morning eastern standard time,” the reporter looked up, “a month and a few days ago.” There was a loud murmur in the room as the reporters scribbled out notes and glanced at each other in shock at the spectacle they had lucked out on. They immediately started shouting out follow up questions to what had just been revealed.

Tine couldn’t help but to glance at Sarawat. The other man’s face remained neutral as he stared out into the crowd. The publicist nodded and then plastered on a smile, “As I said before, what they choose to do and how they choose to do it is no one’s business but their own. Despite their problems, they love each other and have vowed to work through their marriage no matter what is thrown their way. Thank you so much for your time.” She quickly stood up. Sarawat stood up as well and Tine had to find strength deep inside his body to stand up too. They walked off into the wings of the stage amidst the yells of the reporter’s questions. Everyone backstage was silently watching the two men. The publicist stared at Sarawat, folded her arms over her chest, and clicked her heel against the floor, “I need to speak with your father.” Her tone was frigid. She walked off leaving them behind. Tine hung his head, stared at the ground, and clenched his fists at his side. He was taking in long inhales and exhales in an attempt to calm his nerves when Sarawat’s shoes came into view as the other man stood in front of him.

“Tine,” Sarawat started. No, Tine couldn’t do this right now.

“Excuse me.” Tine pushed past him and hurried off in the direction of the bathroom which he had visited earlier that morning. He shoved the door open and glanced around at the stalls before entering the one at the very end. He knelt down in front of the toilet as if he were going to throw up. No matter how nauseous he felt nothing came out. Damn it! He sat down on the floor and leaned his back against the cold tile wall. The images of Sarawat and Oak danced around in his mind, nauseating him further. His knees were drawn up and his arms held them close to his chest as his body shook with painful racking sobs. The sounds of his quick exhales mixed in with the sounds of his crying filled the bathroom. He prayed that no one came in to find him like this. It was the last thing he needed right now for someone to see how pathetic and weak he looked. Fuck, what was he going to do? He needed to get out of there.

Ugh, why did he feel so hot? Tine tried to fan his face with his hand as he looked around him. He leaned forward, grabbed a few sheets of toilet paper, and dabbed frantically at his face. He looked at the drenched and muddied up piece of tissue in his hand. Shit, he was sweating all of his makeup off. He blinked rapidly as black dots began swimming into his vision. No, no. Tine looked around the stall and noticed that everything was slowly tilting to the left. He narrowed his eyes in an attempt to focus them, but it only made the room spin more. Balling the tissue in his fist, he tried to stand up, but stumbled and fell back heavily against the wall. His chest tightened leaving a feeling of pressure against his heart. What was happening to him? Why couldn’t he breathe? Fuck was he having a heart attack? He tried to sit up to the best of his abilities as the pressure in his chest continued to suffocate him. He gasped and tried to swallow in as much air as he could, but couldn’t get in any oxygen. Great, he was going to die in the men’s bathroom from either a heart attack or asphyxiation. What a perfect end to his morning. His head pounded and throbbed as he tried to get up again, but all he had managed to do was slump more to his left. Panicked, he tried to call out for someone, but found that his voice was gone. The edges of his sight grew dark as the silence engulfed him.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Thirteen: What’s Done in the Dark...

 

The feeling of a wet warm tongue against his hand startled Tine awake. “What?” He said softly as his sore puffy eyes struggled to open. He could tell that he was lying down on something soft, but he felt disoriented and extremely confused. Tine managed to open his eyes and gazed at Teddi who was curled up beside him on the couch. Teddi? Where was he? As if in a trance he began to look around his surroundings. He was at the condo. How did he get there? His eyes finally settled on the man staring at him from the armchair. Sarawat’s formerly groomed hair was now messy and his shoulders were hunched. Tine noticed that the other man looked exhausted and glum.

“Tine.” Sarawat said slowly, his voice breaking. Tine watched him, but didn’t answer. “Do you remember what happened?” He asked.

Tine closed his eyes and winced as if he were in pain. Of course he remembered what happened. How the fuck could he forget? He had been publicly humiliated in front of the entire country and to top it off, the man he was so desperately in love with had been lying to him and sleeping with his co-worker. What a fucking nightmare. He tried to swallow, but his tongue felt heavy in his mouth and tasted like lead. He didn’t feel good. His body ached and his heart felt like there was a vice grip around it, tightening with every breath. He brought his hand up to his chest and placed it over his heart, hoping to soothe the pain. Sarawat stood up from the armchair and gingerly perched on the arm of the couch, he glanced at Tine’s feet which were the closest to him, “You fainted.” He stated as his eyes travelled up Tine’s body. Tine blinked slowly and his face scrunched up. What? He did? “Everyone panicked when we couldn’t find you. But,” Sarawat paused, “I found you slumped over in the bathroom. My dad helped me bring you home.” Home? Was this still his home? It didn’t feel like that anymore.

Tine grimaced, “My hero.” He said sarcastically as he glanced at the other man. His voice was hoarse and dry from the crying, but he didn’t care, he was ready to be heard, “Or are you lying and it was actually the makeup artist who found me?” He spat out and struggled to sit up, pushing his back against the other arm of the couch. His vision was blurred, but he did his best to stare down the man in front of him.

Sarawat tilted his head and glanced down at his hands before nervously picking at the cuticles, “Tine,” Sarawat hesitated and then shook his head, “I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you. I’m sorry that you found out that way.” Sarawat let out a long exhale and watched Tine, who was in turn still staring at him.

Tine rolled his stingy eyes as they began to well up with fresh tears, “I don’t want your fucking apology,” He choked out as the salty liquid rolled down his cheeks. “I want you to tell me the truth.”

Sarawat bit his bottom lip and nodded, “Okay.” His voice cracked, “I’ll tell you anything that you want to know.” The room stayed silent aside from the electrical humming of their appliances. Tine didn’t even know where to start. He didn’t even know if he honestly even wanted to find out the answers to any of his questions.

“Why?” Tine managed to ask.

Sarawat frowned in confusion and repeated, “Why?”

“Yea, why didn’t you tell me when I asked you?” Tine clarified.

 “I wanted to, but I was scared that if I did, you’d pull away from me.” Sarawat cocked his head to the side, “I didn’t want you to think that my past with Oak was a threat to what you and I have now.” He sighed and his body visibly tensed up, “I swear, I was going to tell you, but then days turned into weeks and I couldn’t.” His eyes bore into Tine’s, “It was too late.”

“That’s a shitty excuse and you know it.” Tine narrowed his eyes in frustration. Sarawat’s such a liar. How had he not noticed before? He was so stupid.

Sarawat scratched the back of his neck, “I really was going to-“

“How long were you together?” Tine interrupted him and continued on with his questions.

“We weren’t together.”

“Stop lying.” Tine’s voice was harsh and low.

Sarawat visibly flinched, “I’m not lying. We weren’t in a relationship. We only slept together.”

Tine wiped his wet cheek with the side of his hand, “Same thing.”

“No, it’s not. Tine I haven’t been in a-“

“Stop talking. You had your chance to talk, you had every opportunity to tell me shit before, and you made the choice not to. If I don’t ask you to say anything then don’t. If I ask you a question then you answer, it’s as simple as that.” Tine knew that he was being hostile, but he didn’t care. Sarawat stared at him, his eyes slightly widened in shock. He nodded and averted his eyes from Tine. “How long were you sleeping with him?” Tine questioned.

“Around three years.” Sarawat responded.

“How did it start?” Tine followed up.

“It happened after a conference.”

“How many times?” Tine’s voice shook, but he wanted to know. Sarawat glanced at him and then looked away.

“I don’t understand.” Sarawat said slowly, his brow furrowed, and his mouth scrunched up.

“How many times did you sleep together?”

Sarawat gave a small shrug, “I didn’t keep count.”

“Give me an estimate.” Tine persisted.

After a moment’s hesitation, Sarawat finally answered, “More than a hundred times.” His voice was barely above a whisper.

“You had sex with him over a hundred times?! Are you serious right now?” Tine glowered and weakly lifted his legs from off of the couch before he placed his feet on the floor. His head felt so heavy. “And you’re telling me that you weren’t in a relationship with him?” He shook his head in disbelief. “How do you sleep with someone over a hundred times for three years and not be in a relationship?” How could he do that? How could he be so intimate with someone and not be in a relationship with them? Fuck. Tine’s eyebrows slightly rose up. Sarawat had been intimate with him too. Is that why Sarawat refused to put a label on what they were? Why he couldn’t refer to Tine as his husband? How could Tine be so dense? The signs were all there.

Sarawat angled his body towards him, “We weren’t in a relationship, it was just an-“ He stopped himself before he finished, but Tine knew what he was going to say.

“An arrangement?” Tine finished for him and sniffed, “Was that what you were going to say?” His eyes squinted at the other man, “Say it Sarawat, I want to hear you say it.”

“Yea, it was an arrangement. We were fuck buddies,” Sarawat reluctantly admitted.

Tine’s chin quivered and he couldn’t help the whimper that slipped through his lips, “Like me right? I’m just you’re fuck buddy too. This is just another arrangement.” His hands came up to cover his face as he started to cry harder. How could he have believed that Sarawat was actually into him? How had he let himself be that stupid? He should have known better. There was a slight dip in the cushion beside him and he could feel the warmth of Sarawat’s body next to him.

“No, Tine. I never thought of you like that. Ever.” He heard Sarawat say beside him.

Tine moved his hands away from his face and he turned his head to look at the other man, “You’re a liar Sarawat.” He shook his head, “How the hell am I supposed to believe anything you say to me ever again?”

“You’re right. I lied to you. But I’m not a liar.”

“Shut up.” Tine commanded and watched as Sarawat opened his mouth to say something and then eventually pressed his lips into a firm line, “Yes or no. Did you sleep with Oak at your last conference?”

Without missing a beat Sarawat answered, “No.” Lie.

“Why was he in your room?” Tine questioned.

“We were talking after drinks.” More lies.

Tine scowled, “With your shirt off?”

Sarawat frowned, “I spilled beer on my shirt during drinks. I told everyone I was leaving and Oak came up with me.” Another lie.

“Why did he go with you?”

Teddi began licking Sarawat’s chin, he quickly turned his head towards her and pulled her to sit on his lap, “Because we were talking in the bar before I spilled my drink and we continued in my room.” He answered and tore his attention away from Teddi to look at Tine. “I know that sounds like the biggest lie, but it’s what happened.” He’s lying again.

Tine scoffed, “Maybe Mil was right.” He muttered, “Everyone’s so blinded by your face, that maybe they really don’t see the real you.” Tine shrugged and wiped his eyes again. Sarawat winced at the words, got up, and left Tine sitting there. Tine wrapped his arms around his body as he did his best to physically hold himself together. Tears streamed down his face as he squeezed his eyes shut. He could hear shuffling in front of him, heard a dull thud against the ground, and felt something soft wipe across his eyes and cheeks. “What are you doing?” he whispered as his eyes remained firmly closed.

“You’re right. No one really sees the real me, because I don’t let them.” Sarawat’s breath ghosted across Tine’s sticky wet face. Tine could feel the tissue in Sarawat’s hand wipe along his chin as tears continued to cascade down his skin, “You’re the only person who’s seen the real me.” His voice was almost inaudible. Tine opened his eyes and looked at the other man who was kneeling in front of him. His hand with the tissue paused from moving along the side of Tine’s face. “I know you don’t believe me and I don’t blame you.” His eyes searched Tine’s, “But I’m sorry.” His hand continued to wipe at Tine’s skin, “I never wanted to hurt you Tine.” Tine didn’t know what to do. He was still so mad, but he was also extremely exhausted. Aside from the Clementine, which seemed like a distant memory, he hadn’t eaten anything. And all the crying didn’t help, nor did the lack of sleep. Sarawat pulled his hand away and sat back so that his butt was resting on his heels. “I really like you.”Sarawat breathed out before he looked down at the ground, “I’ll do whatever you want. I’ll make it up to you.”

Tine didn’t believe him. He didn’t trust a word of what he said. Sarawat could spin words as much as he wanted but the bottom line was that he had lied. He had purposefully kept something from him. He had been selfish and his selfishness had embarrassed Tine. Despite all of that, Tine loved him. Against his better judgement, he reached out and pushed his fingers through Sarawat’s hair. It was soft, but firm where the mousse had been applied. “Sarawat,” Tine whispered his voice hoarser than before. Sarawat hesitantly looked up at him, his eyes seemingly searched Tine’s for something.

“Yea?” Sarawat’s brows raised and pulled together. Tine watched as the other man licked his lips, the lipstick still stained into them.

Tine audibly exhaled and let his hand slide along the side of Sarawat’s cheek, smearing the makeup that he still wore. “I believe you,” Tine said. They looked at each other for what seemed like minutes, neither one of them saying a thing. A crooked grin tugged at Sarawat’s lips as he reached up to put his hand over Tine’s and pressed his cheek into Tine’s palm. It wasn’t true. He didn’t believe a single word that was said. He just wanted the conversation to be over. Tine arched a brow as the irony sunk in. Great, now they were both liars.


The rest of the day had felt long as the two men awkwardly navigated around each other in the condominium. Tine had felt so uncomfortable being in the presence of the other man, that he had taken Teddi out for a drive into the countryside. He had wanted to take her for a walk, but knew that the media presence around their property was definitely heightened and he wished to avoid them. The small dog frolicked happily in the long grass and chased after the small creatures she found out there. Tine took in a big whiff of the air and smiled as the sounds of nature permeated his core and left him feeling much more tranquil. He had left his phone turned off in the car because he had been tired of the constant buzzing of calls and texts from his friends and family. Right now he didn’t need their pity. He just genuinely wanted to be alone. Lowering himself to sit in the grass, he watched as Teddi chased a butterfly that was coasting over the tall greenery. When she was satisfied with her activity, she wandered over to him and climbed into his lap, her little paw prints stamped on to his clothing. He gave her a small smile and shook his head. She was the only one he needed right now. The evening dusk began to transform his surroundings, blotting out the things he had once been able to see, and leaving them in shadows. He must have been out there for hours. Tine glanced down at the dog that was passed out on his legs and carried her back to the car before driving to the condominium.

He sighed before pushing the key into the front door. Maybe he could just go back to the countryside and sleep in the car. As he turned to go back down to the garage, their front door opened and he glanced over at a very distraught looking Sarawat. His hair was tousled, his jaw was clenched, and the skin was bunched around his eyes. “Tine,” he said softly. Sarawat’s eyes travelled down Tine’s body and up to his face, “Where were you?” His nose scrunched up and his brow wrinkled. Teddi jumped up and placed her paws against Sarawat’s legs. He bent down and picked her up in his arms. Damn, they couldn’t go back to the field now. Tine unclipped her leash and gently pushed past Sarawat into the condo. He could hear the sound of the door shutting behind him.

“I went for a drive.” He answered honestly and headed towards the bedroom without glancing back at the other man.

“Oh.” Was all Sarawat had managed to say as Tine started to peel off his dirty clothes in the room. He could hear Sarawat’s feet padding against the wooden floor in the living room and the sounds of the lights clicking off before he made his way into the bedroom. “I made dinner. You hungry?” He asked. Tine turned to glance at him and shook his head. He really couldn’t stomach anything at the moment. He pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it into the hamper before chucking off his jeans and threw them into the bin as well. His eyes followed Sarawat as the other walked into their joined closet and came out with a clean shirt and shorts in his hands. He handed them over to Tine. Tine stared at the items for a minute as he tried to figure out if he wanted to be petty or not. With a drawn out sigh, he reluctantly took them from the other man’s hands and put them on.

“Thanks,” He mumbled as he pulled the shirt on.

“No problem.” Sarawat replied before sitting down at the end of the bed. Tine watched the other fidget with the comforter as he kept his eyes downcast. “About tomorrow” Sarawat began, “I was thinking we could take Teddi to her appointment at the vet and then grab breakfast.”

Tine shook his head, “I’ll take her to the vet before I go to work.”

Sarawat looked up and stared at Tine in confusion, “You can’t be serious. You’re going to work?”

Tine narrowed his eyes as he pulled the shorts up his long legs, “Yea. People depend on me to get things done. I can’t just keep taking days off because of stupid drama in my own personal life.” He spat out and walked around to his side of the bed to sit down and plug in his phone. Tine turned on the device and watched as multiple notifications and missed calls filled up his screen. His parents, his brother, Ohm, Phuak had all called, and the last missed call had been from Fong. He pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration before he glanced over at Sarawat. Everything was his fault. The tension hung over them as Tine fumbled to get in under the blanket.

“Fine. I’ll be home so I’ll take Teddi to the vet. You can take the car to work.” Sarawat offered again.

“I said no!” Tine yelled out in anger. It startled both him and the other man as their eyes met. Woah, where did that come from? “She’s my dog. I’ll handle it, so please just drop it.” Tine lowered his voice, but he felt horrible. This wasn’t him. This wasn’t how he behaved. He hadn’t seen this side of himself in a very long time. He lowered his eyes and lay down in the bed, pulling the blanket up over his body and turned to face the window.

“Okay,” Sarawat’s voice was very quiet. Tine didn’t say anything else as the man got up from the edge of the bed, turned off the bedroom light, and slunk in beside him. Tine scooted as far as he could to his side of the bed. Suddenly, he felt the pressure and warmth of Sarawat’s hand as it soothed down Tine’s spine. It was part of their night time ritual and it normally put Tine to sleep right away. But his body became tenser as Sarawat touched him. His eyes began to get hot, but no tears came. He was all cried out for the day.

Sarawat must have sensed that Tine was tense because he moved his hand away from Tine’s back. Tine frowned, he felt tense but he hadn’t necessarily wanted the other man to stop. Maybe Sarawat didn’t want to touch him anymore now that his mood was sour. Whatever, Sarawat could do what he wanted. Tine closed his eyes and all he could see were the pictures of Oak and Sarawat kissing or holding each other. His eyes flew open and he ground his teeth at the memory, “When was the last time you slept with Oak?” The words tumbled out of his mouth before he even had a chance to stop them. There was silence from the other man. Tine rolled onto his back and turned his head to look at Sarawat. From the light of the moon, Tine could see that Sarawat was staring back at him.

“A week before I heard about your dad.” He cautiously answered as his eyes searched Tine’s, “Before my idea.” A week? That was it? The truth finally settled into Tine’s heart. If it weren’t for him and his dad’s situation, Sarawat would still be sleeping with Oak. For all he knew, they would have probably realised that they were made for each other and that they no longer just wanted meaningless sex, that they were both ready to commit to each other. And Tine had prevented that. Maybe Sarawat had intended to push through the arrangement and then finally be with the man he actually cared about. Tine frowned. Oak wasn’t the one who had infiltrated Sarawat and Tine’s relationship, it was the other way around. Shit. “Tine?” Sarawat called out to him and Tine realised that he had merely been staring at the other man as he had processed the new information. He shouldn’t have asked him anything. That was definitely a mistake. “You okay?” Sarawat asked him, as he slightly sat up in the bed, and leaned in to see Tine’s face. Tine recoiled at the closeness and turned his face away from the other man. Had he ruined Sarawat’s chances of actually being with someone who had been there for him for three years? He nibbled anxiously on his bottom lip and threw the blanket off of his legs. He felt like he was being suffocated by the material.

“I’m hot,” Tine announced as he felt the familiar panic consume him.

“Oh,” Sarawat reached his hand out and placed the back of it against Tine’s forehead. Tine fought the mixed urges to either push the hand away or use it to pull Sarawat closer. “You’re a little warm.” He mumbled under his breath. “Want an ice pack?” Sarawat turned his hand over and rubbed his thumb across Tine’s brow. Tine looked at the other man who was staring down at him. He looked so perfect and so handsome in the moonlight. The familiar fluttering in his stomach overrode the feeling of panic that had initially been there. He wanted to kiss Sarawat and yet he also wanted to bite his lip and make him bleed. There was a strong desire to hurt him, to make him feel some type of pain, but Tine fought back against it. His feelings were a mess. He was sure that he wanted to sleep with the man beside him, but then he also wanted to kick him. This wasn’t healthy. He needed to get away.

“No. I’m going to go sleep in my room.” Tine finally managed to say as he continued to watch Sarawat in the darkness. He could see the other man squint at him before he hesitantly moved his hand away from Tine’s head.

“I’ll get you the ice pack. And then I’ll sleep in the other room.” Sarawat suggested. Tine opened his mouth to say something, but the man was already out of the bed and had walked into the darkness of the condo. He could hear him moving around the kitchen, bumping into things before he stepped back into the bedroom with an ice pack wrapped up in a towel. “Here,” He handed it over to Tine. Why was Sarawat calling the shots here? Tine had wanted to be the one to leave to go to another room, he never asked Sarawat to get him anything. There he goes again, making decisions on my behalf, like deciding that I didn’t deserve to know about him and Oak. Well screw him. Out of defiance, Tine kept his arms by his side. When Tine didn’t reach out to grab it from him, Sarawat sighed and put the ice pack down on the night table. “Night,” Sarawat muttered before he grabbed his phone from the table and left the room. Tine looked up at the ceiling as the heaviness in his chest continued to press down against his breaking heart.


Early the next morning, Tine had grabbed Teddi, taken her to the vet, dropped her back home, and driven to work. It took a lot more time than he originally thought it would, but he had declined Sarawat’s help, so he knew that he needed to do it all on his own. He had to prove to the other man that he didn’t need him. When he had returned to the condo to drop Teddi off, Sarawat had been sitting on the couch looking at his laptop, presumably doing work. He had glanced up when Tine opened the door and Teddi had run over to him excitedly. Sarawat gave a small smile to the dog, petting her behind the ears as she fawned over him. The sight of the two of them crushed Tine. Watching them like this would have normally made his heart flutter as it swelled with love for the other man. Now he just felt sad, disappointed, and most importantly betrayed. No matter what Sarawat had done, Tine knew that the other man wasn’t a bad person. He wished that he could think of Sarawat in that way, but he knew it wasn’t the truth and it made being mad at him so much more difficult. Sarawat had tried to help him out with the arrangement and Tine had mucked it up with his feelings. He should have never kissed the other man the night of the fight. It was a mistake and he desperately regretted it. As he stared at them from the front door, Sarawat had looked up at Tine as his fingers combed through Teddi’s fur. Tine could see the other man’s mouth open to say something, but Tine quickly pulled the front door shut and ran off to work. He didn’t have the patience to hear whatever it was that Sarawat wanted to say to him.

Deciding to go into work proved to be a huge mistake as Tine was immediately ambushed by reporters on his way into the building. Fuck, they normally didn’t follow him to work, but Tine forgot that this wasn’t just an ordinary day. His problems with Sarawat extended beyond the confines of their home. By them having the press conference, they had allowed the entire country into their conflict. In a normal relationship, a couple wouldn’t usually have the entire world gossiping about their cheating spouse and discussing how pathetic the victim looked for staying with them.

The irony of it all was that Sarawat hadn’t technically cheated on Tine. They hadn’t even been officially together at the time, hell they weren’t even officially together now. Tine knew that if Sarawat had slept with Oak at the most recent conference, he technically hadn’t cheated on him either. They hadn’t even kissed at that point. He couldn’t punish Sarawat for being with Oak, but he could sure as hell be pissed that Sarawat had lied to him. Sarawat should have told him that he had a past with Oak and let Tine make a decision on whether or not he felt comfortable with being with him having known that. It wasn’t up to Sarawat to make that call and now his decision to withhold the truth not only embarrassed Tine, but also ended up leading him on. Tine was sure that Sarawat had no feelings for him whatsoever beyond friendship and that Tine had thrown himself at the other man like a complete idiot. Sarawat was a nice person. He had probably felt bad for Tine that night after the fight and then one thing had led to the next. Tine was sure that if Sarawat had to choose between a passionate relationship with a man he had been sleeping with for years and Tine, he would surely lose out. How embarrassing it was for him to realise that whenever Sarawat had told him he liked him, that he was missing the unspoken part of the statement. Sarawat liked him, but just as a friend. Tine tried to put his hand up to block the cameras and the people who were shoving microphones and recorders into his face.

“Tine! Did you really know that Sarawat was sleeping with his co-worker?”

“How could you have forgiven him so fast?”

“Do you have advice for other couples who stayed together after their partner cheated?”

“Is your husband still sleeping with his co-worker?”

“Are you two in an open marriage?”

“How devastated were you after those photos were released?”

“Have you seen the pictures of Sarawat and Oak online?”

“Tine, do you have any comment on what happened?”

“Will you be getting a divorce?”

At the last question, Tine turned to look at the man who had asked it. His face was eager for an answer and Tine really didn’t know how to process it. Divorce? Is that what was going to happen now? He hadn’t even thought of it which was absurd. How had he not considered divorcing Sarawat amidst all that had happened? His heart began to beat quickly as it silently answered his question. It was because he was still in love with the other man despite everything that had happened. Refocusing his attention, Tine pushed through the crowd of reporters, his hat pulled down low on his head. He hoped that he didn’t get fired with all of the unwanted attention and prayed that they would all leave by the time he went home. Hopefully they hadn’t accosted any of his co-workers that morning.

He stepped into the busy office and noticed an immediate hush as he walked through people to get to his desk. Feeling extremely uncomfortable, Tine hung his head and focused his attention on his feet as he made his way to his chair. Without bothering to look up he could feel the eyes on him and hear the faint whispers as his colleagues spoke about him to each other. Fuck. He mused to himself as he pulled his laptop out of his bag. He hated to admit it, but Sarawat had been right, he should have stayed home a few more days. At the time getting away from Sarawat and burying himself in his work seemed like the best plan, but now he wished more than anything for a hole to swallow him up. As he turned on his computer, he forced himself to glance up and found almost the entire office looking in his direction. Upon noticing that he had noticed them, they immediately turned their heads away and pretended as if they had been discussing something else. Tine let out a long exhale, looked at his screen, and placed his shaking hands into his lap. What was he going to do? The whole day couldn’t be like this could it? He picked at a few strands of dog hair that clung to his work pants. Shit, he forgot to use the lint roller that morning. There was a light rap of knuckles against the wood of his desk. He looked up and found one of his co-workers watching him with a pained grimace on her face and her palm pressed against her chest. He squinted at her and tried to remember her name, but for the life of him he couldn’t recall it.

“Tine,” She shook her head and sighed, “I came to tell you how brave I think you are for showing up to work today. I know that if I was in your shoes, I might have just up and quit my job,” she gave him a small smile, “But not you. You’re just like the little engine that could and I admire that about you.”

Tine’s lips parted as he tried to absorb what she had said. A part of him wanted to tell her to frick off, but instead he did what he did best. He plastered on a smile and said, “Thank you.” The woman nodded and then shook her head.

“Just let me know if you need anything alright. I’m just,” She pointed to a desk to the side of the office, “over there okay. If you just feel like you need someone to talk to,” she prattled on. Tine knew that she probably really meant well, but he wasn’t in the mood for it. Plus she would be the last person he would ever want to confide in since he was well aware that she was the biggest gossip in the office. He gave her a small nod and then glanced back at his screen, but she still stood in front of him. “Don’t believe everything that you see on those blogs by the way, I highly doubt that you pushed your husband into the arms of another man no matter what they say.” She grinned, “I’m team Tine.” Tine gave her a tight lipped smile. What does that even mean? People thought that he was the reason for Sarawat’s alleged affair?

“Thanks.” He answered stiffly and began typing on his computer. There was nothing on his screen, he was just faking it. He didn’t care if she was still standing there. He needed this conversation to end. The lady reached out and patted his hand before she finally retreated to her desk. Tine took a peek at her and noticed that a few of his co-workers walked over to her desk, glancing in his direction as she spoke to them. “Great,” he muttered to himself and opened up a file on his computer. He tried reading it, but realised that he had read over the same line five times. Shit. He put his hand over his mouth with his thumb pressed against his cheek, and took a deep breath. He closed his eyes for a moment as he thought about what he needed to do to get his work done.

“Falling asleep on the job are we?”

Tine opened his eyes and stared at Air. She sat down on the edge of his desk and watched him. He frowned, “Here to look at the freak? Tickets cost ten dollars and if you throw in an extra five I might actually cry for you,” he quipped, but there was some level of truth in there. He really did feel like bawling his eyes out once again, but he refused to.

Air cocked her head to the side, “What if I throw in ten extra dollars? Will your head spin like the girl’s did in the exorcist?” she smirked at him. Tine shrugged.

“At this point in my day, anything is possible,” he mumbled and looked down at his desk.

“How are you holding up?” she questioned, her voice low.

Tine looked up at her, “I’m doing great,” he lied and leaned back in his chair with his arms behind his head. Air frowned at him.

“Really?”

Tine nodded, “Yea, I mean. I already knew what happened. I just didn’t expect all of Thailand to find out too.” He lied easily again. Maybe he had spent too much time with Sarawat.

“That’s fair.” She answered, “I’d be pretty pissed about that too. If I ever see that evil guy who put you in this position, I’d kick him so hard in the shin. It’s nobody’s damn business but yours and your husband’s” She scoffed, “Did you hear Sivakorn’s press conference this morning?” Shit. Tine had forgotten all about that. His eyes widened and he shook his head. He hoped that the asshole hadn’t revealed anything about his dad like he had threatened to. “My husband was listening to it and it was honestly such a pile of shit. He said that he was happy now that everyone could see Sarawat for who he was and understand that he was just trying to protect you and others from falling into his trap.” She reiterated. Tine rolled his eyes and shook his head. He didn’t care anymore, as long as he didn’t mention his dad, nothing else really mattered.

“Did he say anything else?” Tine asked as he watched her. She shook her head.

“Nothing really, just that he’s a big loser, no one loves him, and he sucks his own ding dong. I mean I think I heard him say that, but I could have misheard.” She smiled at him and Tine gave a small laugh. He was so happy that she worked there now. He had even met her daughter the other day when she had brought her to work.

“Sucks his own ding dong you say? Pretty impressive if you ask me.” He smiled at her and leaned forward in his chair. His eyes softened as he looked at her, “Thanks Air.” He didn’t have to say what for because he knew she would understand. Her little joke had made him laugh for the first time in twenty four hours. It stunned him that everything had fallen apart just a day ago.

“Anytime.” She got up from his desk and winked at him before she walked off to do her own work. He watched after her for a moment and then decided to go to the bathroom.

Pushing back from his desk he walked to the men’s bathroom and got a slight chill up his spine. After the previous day, public bathrooms were starting to feel a tad bit anxiety inducing. He was going to use the urinal, but decided that a stall might have been the best bet so that no one gave him sad eyes as he peed. He pushed against one door and found that it was locked, so he moved to the next one over. Tine locked the stall door behind him and unzipped his fly, when he heard the voices of two men speaking as they walked in.

“I can’t believe he actually showed up to work.” The first man said.

“Fucking embarrassing man.” The second man agreed.

“I mean we all said that Sarawat was too good looking for him. So are we really surprised?” The unidentified first voice laughed. “Like come on, I’m not gay, but between those two guys, I’d fuck the co-worker too.”

The second man joined in on the laughter and Tine could hear them unzipping their pants, “Doesn’t Tine kind of give off prude energy though? I mean you look at him and you’re like, meh, I doubt this guy has sex. He looks too preppy.”

The first man laughed again and Tine could hear him peeing, “Yea! I was telling my wife that last night. I was like this dude has no sex potential. He’s always blushing and ducking his head.”

“Exactly, who would find that sexy? Obviously his husband didn’t since he ran right back to a dude he was fucking for years.” The second voice replied. Tine’s face got hot as he listened. He didn’t feel like he was going to cry, but he was damn ready to bust out of that stall and tear the two men to shreds.

The first voice chuckled, “That’s crazy. How did he end up with Tine over that other guy?”

“They said they grew up together or some shit, maybe it was like an arranged marriage. Maybe they hate each other and were forced into this. Who knows?” The second voice offered. “I knew they looked too good to be true. Didn’t make sense.”

“I mean I get why Tine would jump at it. That family has so much money. They wipe their butts with cash.” The first voice laughed again and then gasped, “Maybe that’s it! Maybe Sarawat can fuck whoever he wants as long as he gives Tine money.” You assholes! That’s it! Tine zipped up his zipper and reached out to unlock the door. He had had enough of the verbal abuse, even though the morons didn’t know he was in there. The sound of flushing beside Tine’s stall startled him. He had forgotten that someone else was in the bathroom with them. He could hear the door beside him unlock and fling open with a loud bang against his stall.

“Who the hell are you assholes to talk about my friend in that way?!” A shrill high voice yelled at the other men. Green? Tine leaned against the wall of the stall and listened. “If you don’t know shit, then don’t talk shit you morons. You don’t even work on our fucking floor so who the hell are you to say anything?” Green continued on.

“We were just joking around. This has nothing to do with you.” The first voice spoke out.

“Nothing to do with me? Think again, if you mess with my friends, then it has everything to do with me. Tine is the best kind of person there is and if he chose to stay with that man, then that is his damn choice to make.” Green’s voice got higher and louder, “Wait, I recognize your face. Aren’t you that dude who got drunk at the Christmas party last year and shit allllll over himself?”

“Um, what, uh no that, that wasn’t me.” The second voice protested, but not very convincingly.

“Oh yea, it was definitely you and your friend over here,” Tine heard a pause, “weren’t you that dude that gave everyone in your office lice?”

“My kid had it okay! Whatever, we’re going now.” Tine heard some shuffling around.

“You didn’t even wash your hands! So nasty! I’m going to tell everyone not to shake your hands ever again Shitty McGee and Lice Man!” Green yelled out as the sound of the bathroom door swung open and closed. Tine could hear the water at the sink running, unlocked the door, and sheepishly came out of the stall. Green looked into the mirror and frowned when he locked eyes with Tine. “Shit Tine. Did you hear all of that? I am so sorry about those damn asses” He turned the water off and shook the water off of his hands. Tine nodded and immediately wrapped his arms around Green’s waist and pulled him in for a hug. “Oh.” Green breathed out and returned the hug just as tightly.

“Thank you.” Tine muttered against the slightly shorter man’s hair. He felt Green chuckle against him.

“Tine you don’t have to thank me for doing the right thing.” Tine pulled back from Green and dropped his hands to the side. “By the way, your back might be wet now.” Green informed him as he held up his wet hands. Tine smiled at him. He would wear a million wet shirts if that meant a lasting friendship with Green.

“That’s okay.”

Green smiled back at him, “I’m all fired up now and it’s not even ten in the morning yet. Let me know if anyone tries to bother you today, I know dirt on everyone in this whole building.” He laughed, “And as you heard, I don’t tread lightly either.”

“You’re kind of scary Green.” Tine admitted as he snickered.

Green squealed in delight and wiggled his fingers at Tine, “Have you been talking to Dim. He says the exact same thing.” He smirked and gave a menacing look, “It’s why he can never leave me.” Tine glanced back at the stall. With all of the commotion he had forgotten he needed to pee.

“I actually wasn’t able to use the bathroom, so I’m going to go do that.” He gestured his thumb at the stall and walked backwards towards it. Green watched him and nodded.

“Alright, just make sure you wash your hands unlike those other jerks.” Green said as his expression changed to disgust. Tine laughed and nodded before he headed back into his stall. He still felt extremely crappy about himself especially after he heard what those men had to say about him. He was pretty sure that they weren’t the only ones to think that way. But at least he had people in his life that would stand up for him. He reminded himself to return a few calls during his break time.


Tine knocked on the apartment door and glanced around him, making sure that no one recognized who he was. It had been brutal trying to get out of work. The reporters seemed to have guessed his work schedule and were waiting for him as he left. It was that or someone he worked with had given them the information. Either way, he had managed to push through the growing horde of people much more efficiently than he had in the morning. As he stood in front of the door, he momentarily looked in the direction of a woman coming out of the elevator down the hall. Shit, he grimaced as he heard the clicking of her shoes against the carpeted hallway. Come on, open up. His eyes refocused on the door in front of him as he reached up and adjusted the sunglasses on his face. He could hear the unlatching and clicking of the locks on the other side and positioned himself to bolt into the apartment. His eyes darted over to the woman again who was now getting closer to him. The door in front of him flew open and Fong’s smiling face beamed up at him. Tine watched as Fong’s eyes travelled up and down the length of his body. He knew that the man was looking at the black hat, the mouth mask, and the sunglasses. It was his normal paparazzi outfit, but it wasn’t one that his friends probably would have seen. “Woah, look at this outfit Mr. Celebrity.” Fong teased him as he stepped back. Tine quickly walked into the small apartment and could hear the door behind him close. He slowly started pulling off the items around his head and threw them on to Fong’s couch. “Can I borrow those? I’m sure someone’s stealing my mail at work, so I’m planning a stake out.” The shorter man grinned, “I feel like I’ll definitely go unnoticed wearing those,” Fong said sarcastically as he pointed to the items on the couch. Tine smirked at him and rolled his eyes.

“Sure, I just need them back before I have to face the joke that has become my life.” Tine sat down on one of Fong’s bar stools and leaned his elbow against the high counter separating the kitchen from the living room. Fong monitored Tine’s face before he moved over to the fridge and grabbed two beers for them. He popped the top off of the bottle and handed it over to Tine before sitting down on the stool beside him. They tapped the necks of their bottles together, “Thanks.” Tine sighed before he brought the cold brew to his lips and drank. He smacked his lips together and let out a long exhale, “I really needed a drink.”

Fong nodded and brought the bottle back up to his mouth, “What’s going on man?” he questioned as his eyes scanned Tine’s face. “I feel like every time I turn on the news, I see something new about you.” He shook his head, “I mean you never told me that you and Wat were swingers operating a sex cult out of your own home.” He shrugged, “I’m kind of upset that I wasn’t invited. You know I’m always down to party.” Tine choked on his drink and started to laugh. He wiped the tears from his eyes and coughed.

“I missed you man.” Tine said slowly. He had barely seen his friends despite his promise to them. They hadn’t confronted him about anything, but he still felt shitty about the neglect. Fong’s eyes widened.

“For real though, what’s happening? Why didn’t you tell us shit was going down with you and Wat?” Fong adjusted himself on his stool and put his beer bottle down on the counter. Tine pressed his lips together and averted his eyes. Here he was about to lie to his friend again.

“I-I wanted to handle it on my own.” Tine lied as he looked up, “I didn’t want to tell you guys anything that would taint him in your eyes.”

Fong tilted his chin down, “I get that and I get that this is your business, but,” he paused, “I feel like you’ve just been keeping stuff from us,” he touched his chest, “from me, and I don’t get it. We tell each other everything. You’re my best friend Tine.” Tine’s heart squeezed. Ugh, if he didn’t feel bad enough as it was already, now he felt so much worse. Fong continued on, “We’ve been together through some really crazy shit and lately I feel like you’re hiding something.” Tine swallowed and looked away from the other man.

“I-,” Tine began, playing with the label on the beer bottle as he tried to sort through his thoughts, “know I’ve been really dropping the ball on our friendship and I’m honestly sorry.”

“Tine,” Fong interrupted, “I’m not saying these things to make you feel shittier than I can already tell you feel. I’m telling you this because I’m legitimately worried about you and I need you to know that no matter what’s happening, I’m always here for you man.” Tine glanced at him, “Especially when it’s about something infidelity related,” They stared at each other, “I can’t lose you like that again.” Fuck, Tine knew he was going to bring that up. How could he not have?

“It’s not like that.” Tine interjected, “I promise, it’s not the same.”

Fong pursed his lips, “How is it different? If anything it’s ten times worse. At least you weren’t married to Plern.” Fong crossed his ankles and folded his arms across his chest. Hearing her name said out loud made all of Tine’s insides churn. “You’re married to Sarawat and he cheated on you multiple times Tine, even after you were fucking married!” Fong’s nostrils began to flare as he got more worked up.

“He didn’t cheat on me!” Tine objected as he wondered if coming here was a mistake. He didn’t believe it was possible, but now he felt so much worse than before.

“Tine,” Fong spoke a bit more softly to the other man, “he was sleeping with another man and I know that there is no way in hell that you would have stayed with an asshole like that. You didn’t even fucking like him before, I thought you hated him in high school, and then you up and married him after he cheated on you?”

“You don’t understand,” Tine ground his teeth.

“Oh I understand plenty. When people show you who they are the first time you need to believe them.” Fong scoffed and brought his bottle to his lips. He paused, “Sarawat’s not a good person and you deserve better, just like you deserved better with Plern.” Tine squeezed his eyes shut as he tried to block out what the other man was saying, “You didn’t believe me then and maybe you don’t believe me now, but you are worth so much more than you’re getting from these cheaters Tine. Plern didn’t care about you, she knew you were chasing after her, she knew you’d do anything for her and she toyed you around.”

Plern had been the only person Tine had ever loved before Sarawat. He had chased after her for his entire first year of university and she had strung him along. She let him take her out, she agreed to be his girlfriend, she kept him away from his friends, and she had cheated on him. A lot. Plern had been everything to him. Tine didn’t know where he began and she ended. He had been so stupid. He had naively believed that when he gave her his virginity that she would stop sleeping with other men, but she had just thrown his inexperience in his face to justify her cheating. Tine shivered at the memories of locking himself in his room for weeks at a time after she had eventually cast him aside. He had barely slept, barely ate, never showered, ignored all of his loved one’s concerns and became a shell of himself. It took his brother, Fong, Ohm, and Phuak to break down his door and drag him out of his bed. They rotated on shifts to watch over him every day until he slowly managed to get back on his feet. No matter how much he had lashed out at them, said mean things, told them to go away, they stayed and supported him.

Tine understood why Fong was scared for him. He had seen him at his very worst. “-kind, you’re smart, caring, handsome, you make everyone around you happy with your infectious personality! You don’t deserve this shit again Tine.” Fong continued on.

“It’s all a lie.” Tine blurted out. His voice was barely above a whisper as he slowly opened his eyes to look at his best friend.

Fong stared at him for a second, “Wait, what?” he questioned.  Tine cleared his throat and held the other man’s gaze. He had to do it. Fong needed to hear what had actually happened.

“Fong, I’ve been lying to you.” Tine took in a deep breath and then exhaled, “I need to tell you the truth.”

Fong maintained steady eye contact as he listened to Tine, slightly nodding as the other man finished up his explanation of the arrangement. He pressed his index finger to his cheek and propped his chin on the rest of the clenched fingers. When Tine had finished speaking, his eyebrows raised and he pursed his lips. “Wow,” he finally breathed out.

Tine nervously chewed on his bottom and cocked his head to the side, “Yea.”

“Wow,” Fong repeated again a bit more slowly this time, “that’s insane. So Sarawat’s not a cheater, he’s just a liar? And now you’re in love with him, but you think he only slept with you because he just didn’t want to hurt your feelings and that he’s actually in love with his co-worker.” He questioned and Tine slowly nodded. “I think out of this whole thing, that last part is the most surprising.”

“What? Why?” Tine furrowed his brows as he leaned in to hear what the other had to say.

“I could be wrong because I don’t really know anything about the guy, but-“ Fong frowned, “He seemed really into you at the wedding reception,” he paused, “like, he was really focused on being near you and getting you whatever you wanted. He legitimately looked at you like you were the best person he had ever seen.” What? Tine definitely hadn’t noticed any of that. Maybe Fong misunderstood what he was seeing.

“Well, we were acting remember?” Tine reminded him.

Fong shook his head, “Maybe you were, but I spoke to Sarawat and he told me point blank he was going to take care of you. I can generally smell bullshit a mile away, but” he shook his head and looked at Tine, “he definitely meant what he was saying. I don’t think he slept with you because he felt bad for you, I think he legitimately likes you.” Then Fong rolled his eyes, “Also, you do know it’s possible to sleep with other people without any emotional attachments right? Just because you’ve only slept with people you cared about doesn’t mean others do the same. I’ve had a lot of one night stands, so trust me.”

Tine scowled, “Really? He liked me so much that he slept with his co-worker at his last conference and then jumped into bed with me right after. If that’s what it means to like someone, then I’d be scared to see what he’d do if he hated me.” Tine scoffed and played with his beer bottle. “And it wasn’t a one night stand. He slept with that guy for years! Years!” Tine exclaimed.

Fong put his hands up in defeat, “Like I said, I don’t know the guy or what’s going on in his head, but I’m just saying that he seemed like he was really into you at your wedding. Having said that,” He reached out and squeezed Tine’s shoulder, “I think you still deserve someone in your life that isn’t going to cause drama or hurt you.” He gave Tine a big smile, “I know I was extremely drunk at your bachelor party, but I really meant it when I said I’d totally date you if I was into dudes.”

Tine laughed and rolled his eyes, “You’ve also said that you’d totally date Miss Piggy if you were a muppet.”

Fong’s face lit up with a smile, “Yea and I meant it! Miss Piggy is a ride and die kind of girl, she can kick ass when she needs to, she’s one hell of a lady, curvy as fuck, has great fashion sense, and she’s into short skinny dudes.” Fong defended his choice and Tine couldn’t help but to burst out into body shaking laughter. Fong joined him, tears springing to his eyes as they both continued to giggle. After their laughing fest Tine had decided to watch an episode of one of Fong’s favourite shows with him before he left to go home.

Sarawat had texted him that he was going to go see Man and Boss, so he would be home a bit late, which was exactly the opportunity that Tine needed to get ready. He unlocked the condo door and stepped inside. Teddi ran over to him and pawed happily at his foot. He bent down and picked up the little dog before depositing her on the bed in the master bedroom. She watched him in excitement as he walked into the closet and grabbed two suitcases that were on the shelf. Having spoken to Fong, Tine realised that he needed to go home to his family. He needed to be around them and no matter how justified he felt, he didn’t feel good punishing Sarawat. Right now they just needed to be away from each other. He wasn’t sure for how long he would need to go away for, but he suspected that this was going to be a permanent move. Fong was right, he did deserve better.

His eyes glossed over the dog who was staring at him. He knew that she would definitely be sad to go. Sighing, he quickly grabbed as much clothes as he could get and tossed them into the suitcases. He didn’t care too much about making them look neat he just needed them to fit. Scurrying around, he grabbed more of his things from the bathroom and hustled out into the living room to grab all of Teddi’s toys. She still had stuff at his parent’s house so he wasn’t too worried about her. Tine had already grabbed his random items from the car, so that was done. Oh, the guest room. He chewed on the inside of his cheek as he hauled more things from that room to the other, throwing them haphazardly into the luggage. When he felt like he had gotten most of what he needed he wheeled the suitcases into the living room, closed the bedroom door so Teddi couldn’t get out, and sat down on the living room couch to wait. His eyes stayed glue to the door for what seemed like hours before he heard the familiar jingle of keys in the lock. Sarawat pushed open the door and Tine could immediately see that the other man looked absolutely exhausted with the deep dark circles under his eyes. The man at the door paused as his eyes settled on Tine before he pushed the door closed without taking his eyes off of the other man. Tine took a deep breath and stood up, his legs slightly shaking.

Sarawat glanced at the bags and then back at Tine’s face. Tine watched as the other man’s brows raised and pulled together, his eyes frozen open, and his lips parted. He had expected the other man to look mad or annoyed, but instead Sarawat looked like he had seen a ghost. The unexpected reaction had thrown Tine off. Tine cleared his throat and his mouth opened, but nothing came out. Shit, Tine blinked back the tears in his eyes. He wasn’t going to fucking cry again, he promised himself. His vision became blurred and unfocused as he looked at the other man in front of him. His heart felt like it was being simultaneously stabbed and squeezed as it ached in his chest. Tine put his hand against his collarbone for a second as he winced in pain. Sarawat took a step forward and Tine put his free hand out to stop him from coming any closer. The tears spilled from his eyes as he finally choked out what he needed to say, “I’m leaving.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Fourteen: I Hate You, I Love You

 

“No.” Sarawat answered with a shake of his head.

Tine wiped his eyes with the side of his hand, smearing the tears across his cheek. No? Who gave him the right to say no? Tine narrowed his eyes. “No?” He questioned. “What do you mean no? I wasn’t asking you Sarawat, I was telling you.” Sarawat ran his fingers through his messy hair and let out a long exhale as his eyes seemingly searched Tine’s face. Tine swallowed hard, “I’m leaving.” He repeated again, firmer this time.

“No,” Sarawat objected, “If you leave,” he paused and placed his palm against his forehead, before he extended it out towards Tine, “You won’t come back.”

Tine shrugged as his tears dripped on to his work shirt, “That’s fine. I think that right now, that might be the best thing to happen for us.” Sarawat took another step towards Tine and Tine stepped back to the side of the couch, “Stop. Please just, just don’t come near me right now.” Tine stuttered. His eyes frantically darting around as he struggled to focus on the man in front of him. He knew that if Sarawat so much as touched him or hugged him that he would lose all resolve to leave and he couldn’t let that happen. He needed to get out of there. The dark feelings in his body were all too familiar and he refused to succumb to it again.

Sarawat shuffled back a few steps until his back was strategically placed against the door. A deep frown permeated his brow and darkened his eyes. “Tine, we just need to talk this out. I know you’re mad, but please just talk to me.” Sarawat pleaded. “We can fix this.”

Tine scoffed, “Fix what? There’s nothing to fix here. What you did happened in the past right? You can’t undo it. What are you going to do? Go back in time and fucking tell me the truth? Because I think that’s the only way that this is all going to go away.”

“I know I messed up! Don’t you think that I know that?!” Sarawat boomed out, “I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to make this better and all I can think about is how much I hurt you and,” he paused, “I can’t fix that, I can’t fix the hurt. I can’t erase my lies, I can’t stop your humiliation, I can’t do it!” He tugged at his hair and let his hands settle on the back of his neck as his head tilted towards the door. “Tine I don’t know what to do.” He said in defeat as he looked up at the ceiling.

Tine stared him down, his chest heaving, and his chin vibrating, “There’s nothing to fix Sarawat. What we had here wasn’t real. We did what we aimed to do, alright. So thank you. Thanks for doing what you said you would.”

“How can you say that?” Sarawat admonished as he moved his head down to face Tine, “How can you honestly look at me and say that what we did, what we felt wasn’t real?”

“Because it wasn’t!” Tine challenged, his voice getting louder, “Stop lying to me. Stop trying to manipulate me into thinking that this was something!” His voice shook, “This was nothing, we were nothing. We got caught up in our own lie and shit got messy.” He shook his head and folded his arms across his chest before looking at his feet, “I should have never kissed you.” Tine spat out and glanced at Sarawat.

Sarawat’s eyes were wide as if he were dumbstruck, “You don’t mean that.” He finally breathed out, “You don’t. You’re mad and-“

“I’m not fucking mad, I’m livid! But I meant what I said. I regret kissing you. I wish you would have just stayed in America with Oak.” He shrugged, “I would have never got hurt if it wasn’t for you. Do you know that?” Tine scoffed and pressed his lips together. Don’t say it, don’t say it, he told himself. “It really seems to be a pattern here. Because of you, I get hurt! I got hurt because of that stupid security guard who came here for you,” Tine pointed accusingly at the other. Stop, don’t do this! “Our whole situation almost got exposed because of your complete recklessness, and I got fucking publicly humiliated because of your damn lies! Oh it feels so great to have people to think I’m an absolute moron for staying with a man who supposedly cheated on me and I’m the one who gets made fun of because,” He choked back a sob, “because they think I pushed you into the arms of another man since I am so pathetic and so unappealing! People think you’re the cheater, but I’m the one who gets dragged through the mud for staying with you?” Tine let out a sarcastic laugh before he took in a breath, “I just wanted to help my family, I just wanted to do something good, and I should have never got involved with you. Ever. God, I wish I never knew you.” He spat out. There it was. The hurt and anger he had been swallowing down just spilled right out of his mouth like venom. The thing he didn’t want to do. The thing he was trying to run away from had happened. Tine immediately closed his mouth as his chest heaved in exertion over the onslaught of hurt he had hurled at the other man. Sarawat slowly looked down at the ground and shuffled his feet.

“You don’t mean that,” he said so softly that Tine had almost missed it. Sarawat looked up and pulled his bottom lip in between his teeth, “Tine, I’m sorry. You’re right. I’ve been nothing but bad for you. But I don’t want to lose you. I can’t. I can’t do it.” He rubbed his arm. Why was he doing this? Why couldn’t he just let Tine go? Tine was trying to make this so much easier for him and he just continued to shoot Tine down. “I like you so much.” Sarawat whispered. Tine narrowed his eyes. He was over all of the fucking lies.

“I’m a big boy, stop lying to me. You lied about you and Oak because there was something there and our dumbass arrangement interfered with that. I’m letting you be free. So just be free!”

“I don’t want Oak!” Sarawat yelled, “I want you! You’re all I’ve ever wanted Tine!” What? What is he saying? Another lie.

“Yea? That so?!” Tine challenged him, yelling as well.

“Yes it is!” Sarawat’s eyes were wild.

“Then why didn’t you go after me?” Tine questioned.

“Because I’m a fucking coward.” Sarawat confessed quickly as he held Tine’s gaze.

Tine turned his head and glanced away from him, “I don’t believe you. I-,” his eyes slowly moved to stare into Sarawat’s, “don’t trust you. I don’t forgive you. All you bring to my life is pain and I deserve better than that.” He walked towards Sarawat, “I need to get away from you because right now I don’t even know if I want to be your friend anymore.” Tine stood right up to him, their toes touching. Sarawat’s face looked alarmed as he stared at Tine with an opened mouth, “If you want to even have a chance of ever seeing me again, you need to let me go.” He tilted his chin up. Feigning the strength and courage he truly didn’t have. If Sarawat just reached out for one second and pulled him into a hug, he knew he’d be a goner. Even now, with everything he had just said, he would stay if Sarawat just managed to do something.

He watched as Sarawat winced and clenched his jaw, the visible cords in his neck pulsing. Sarawat lowered his eyebrows and stared at the ground before he stepped to his left, unblocking the path to the door. Good, that was what Tine had wanted. Right? He glanced at Sarawat for a second before he turned to walk away and opened the bedroom door that he had closed. He eyed the dog that had been lying on the ground with her leash on. She scrambled up and tried to run out in excitement to greet Sarawat, but Tine grabbed her quickly around the middle and hoisted her up. Without another look at Sarawat, Tine opened the front door as the dog in his arm tried to wiggle away. “Teddi stop!” He scolded her and she immediately quieted down. She began to whimper as he held her against his chest. Damn it. Tine frowned. This was too much emotional stress on him and he felt tired. He rolled the first bag out and then the second into the hallway. “Car keys are on the counter. I’ll return the house keys later, if that’s okay.” Tine informed him, his eyes finally lifting to look at Sarawat. The other man hadn’t moved an inch since he moved away from the door.

“Keep them. You can always come back.” Sarawat tilted his head up and looked at Tine with a vacant stare, “It’ll always be your home.”

Tine shook his head and pinched his lips together as he stepped out of the condo, closing the door behind him. He put Teddi down on the ground and let her slowly walk ahead as he rolled his suitcases behind her.


Tine absentmindedly stared off into space as he spooned some cereal into his mouth. His left ankle was tucked under his right thigh as he sat at his parent’s kitchen table early one Saturday morning. He chewed slowly on the breakfast before forcing himself to swallow the bite. He hadn’t had much of an appetite the past few weeks, but he pushed himself to eat three times a day. From behind him he could hear his dad shuffle into the kitchen, his heavy footsteps slapping across the cold kitchen floor.  “Morning dad,” Tine mumbled before spooning another bite of cereal into his mouth. He felt a warm hand on his shoulder and a tight squeeze. Tine turned his head and looked up into the face of his father who was watching him with a worried expression.

“How are you today?” His dad asked.

Tine shrugged, “Better than yesterday I guess.” His dad had asked him that every day for the two weeks or so that he had been there. And Tine could honestly say that every day had been a little bit better, especially since either Air or Green would come to pick him up in the morning for work.  At the beginning they would help him push through the crowds of reporters to get into work. But recently, the media presence around his scandal had died down and had been replaced with a politician charged with embezzlement. Tine and Sarawat’s situation were old news and no one cared about it anymore except for the people who it had actually happened to. He hadn’t heard anything about Mil for a while either. Tine figured that he must have slunk back into the sewers once he managed to get the public rallying against Sarawat. He had come into their lives and left devastation in his wake without a care in the world. Tine watched as his dad sat down on the chair to his left. The older man angled the chair to face his son and offered him a small smile.

“Good. I’m happy to hear that.” He studied his son’s face, “Have you heard from Sarawat?” Tine was about to bring his spoon to his mouth, but then put it back into the bowl after his dad had asked him the question. Hearing Sarawat’s name always made him feel like his soul was being torn right out of him. He had only been able to recently stop tearing up whenever he thought about the other man. He looked at his dad and nodded.

“He calls me every day at the same time.” He answered, “And every day I don’t answer.” He sighed and averted his eyes from his dad. Tine still felt shitty about what he had said to Sarawat. He hadn’t meant anything that he had said. He didn’t blame the other man for anything at all and he definitely didn’t regret knowing him. He was just so pissed and had exploded.

“Tine,” his dad began, “I’ve waited a few weeks to say something because I knew how upset you were. But I need you to listen to me.” His dad watched him and Tine returned his look.

“Okay,” Tine said hesitantly. He angled his body towards his dad and pushed the bowl away from him. “I’m listening.”

His dad nodded and cleared his throat, “Did you ever wonder why I didn’t ask more questions when you got engaged to Sarawat?” Tine’s eyebrows slightly rose at the question. He had been surprised that his dad had been as accepting as he was, but he hadn’t dwelled on it too much. He had been more concerned that his dad was so moved by the announcement at the time. His dad studied his face, “I didn’t ask any other questions because I knew that Sarawat had feelings for you and he had them for a very long time.”

“What?” Tine blurted out immediately. His dad nodded. Tine was befuddled.

“Yes. I don’t know if Sarawat was always aware about how he felt about you, but we always knew there was something special there, even when you were little kids.” His dad explained.  Tine couldn’t understand what he was hearing. His dad thought Sarawat had feelings for him?

Tine shook his head and frowned, “That can’t be true.”

“It is true. His parents and your mom and I always knew there was something there,” he raised a brow, “We thought it was just maybe some type of brotherly affection, but over the years we saw it for what it might have been.” His dad laughed, “I think you were the only one to be oblivious to everything.”

“Dad, Sarawat’s a liar. Maybe he’s just been pretending this whole time as some sick joke. Teens do that.”

His father pointed a finger at Tine, “Sarawat might have lied, but he’s a good man. He was a sweet kid, kind of an introvert, but I watched him grow up and I’ve seen his character.” He scrunched up his face, “What are you talking about teens? Teens what?”

Tine rolled his eyes, “When you said that Sarawat has had feelings for me for a long time. You were talking about when we were teens right? When he wrote that silly thing on my cast.”

“Oh you mean that silly thing that you refused to scratch out?” His father said pointedly, “And no, I wasn’t talking about when you were teenagers, I was talking about when you were little kids,” he paused, “Sarawat was protective over Phukong, but you, he was extremely overprotective with. Do you remember that time when you skinned your knee?” his dad tapped his chin in thought, “You were about five or six at the time.” Tine furrowed his brows and scrunched his mouth in confusion. His dad sighed, “I guess not, you were still pretty young. Well, you and Sarawat were running out in the front of the house. He was chasing you on the pavement and your mother warned you guys to go play in the backyard on the grass. But you two didn’t listen of course.” Tine listened attentively as some bits and pieces of what his dad was saying slowly came back to him. “Of course, you tripped on your shoelace and slid across that pavement. Skinned up your whole knee, that’s why you still have that scar there.” His dad glanced at Tine’s leg and then continued, “Your mom went running over there and Sarawat refused,” his dad emphasized the last word, “to let anyone touch you. He would scream if anyone tried and he just knelt beside you and patted your hair. He asked his mom to bring him the first aid kit, now remember what I said you guys were five years old, and he patched you up.” Tine’s eyes widened in shock. He didn’t remember any part of that. The falling he remembered, but Sarawat taking care of him? His dad chuckled, “He actually did a pretty good job for such a little kid, he needed help getting the paper off of the bandage, but he took care of you. When you eventually stopped bawling you hugged him for a really long time. We all looked at each other and then back at you two. It was really special Tine.”

Tine shrugged and looked down at his hands, “I thought you’d be on my side dad.”

“I am on your side, Tine. I just don’t want you to make a mistake that you’re going to regret for the rest of your life.” His dad advised him.

Tine frowned, his gaze still down, “What mistake would I be making?”

“Not giving Sarawat another chance and seeing where things might go.” His dad said in a gentle tone. Tine’s head snapped up. Why should he give Sarawat another chance? What they had was make believe.

“He lied!” Tine half shouted at his dad. “He’s a liar, how can I trust him?”

“Tine you lied, you’re a liar, and how can I trust you?” His dad raised his voice at him as well. Tine leaned back in his chair, reeling from the shock of what his dad had just said. “You lied to me, you lied to your brother, your friends, to all of Thailand. I could be livid with you, throw you out. But I love you and I might still be annoyed, but I forgive you and we’re going to work through this.”

Tine folded his arms across his chest, “I lied because I thought I was doing the right thing. I wanted to protect you dad.”

“Yea and I bet Sarawat thought he was doing the right thing and trying to protect you from something he probably thought would hurt you. Everyone has their reasons for why they lie. They all feel justified, but someone always gets hurt.” His dad reached out and patted his knee. “I don’t know why you refuse to see how Sarawat feels about you.”

“I hear it and I hear it again, but,” Tine raised his shoulders, “it doesn’t make sense to me, I can’t believe that someone like him would genuinely be into me. He has so much to offer and what do I have? I have my little job and my dog. That’s it.” Tine shook his head, “He belongs with someone like Oak. That makes more sense to me.”

“Stop thinking like that! What happened to that teen who called himself Mr.Chic? Used to chase after all those girls?”

“He died.” Tine stated bluntly.

His dad smacked his hand against the table, “Do you even care about Sarawat? Is this why you’re pushing him away because you don’t know if you care or not? I’m confused. Your actions are confusing. Tine if you don’t like him then fine, let him go but if you do like him, then why are you doing this?!”

“I love him dad!” He blurted out, his eyes wild. Tine was shocked that he had said it. He had never said that before to anyone else. His dad stared at him silently, “I love him and he hurt me. And it’s easier for me to get over it if I just-,” Tine paused, “move on. I’m tired of loving people who just make me suffer. I can’t do it anymore. My heart can only break so many times before it just never gets put back together again.” His voice shook as he spoke. All of this was emotionally draining him.

“You’re running away from your problem Tine, not facing it.” His dad sighed and shook his head, “I can’t force you to face your demons. I can only support you in whatever choices you make.” His dad stood up and placed his hand on top of Tine’s head, “Like I said before, I just want you to be happy and you told me two weeks ago that you were happy.”

Tine stared straight ahead, “Yea, because I didn’t know then what I know now.”

“Alright Tine.” His dad muttered and walked out of the kitchen. Tine pressed his lips firmly together and stared at the half eaten bowl of cereal on the table.


Tine listened attentively to some Scrubb songs on his phone as he took Teddi out for their evening adventure. Part of his ritual to make himself feel better was to take her on these long walks while listening to music. A big problem with their walks was that Tine often got lost in thought and ended up in places that he didn’t expect or recognize. One time he had wandered off so far with her that he had gotten lost and had to GPS his way back home, another time they had somehow ended up at a park he had never seen before. It was a bit dangerous, but he kind of liked not knowing where he was going. Today was no different as he hyper focused on the song Smile that was playing in his ears. The lyrics reminded him a lot of Sarawat and their situation. He missed him, a lot. He constantly thought about going to see him, but he knew that being away from him was the best decision. That way he couldn’t say any more hurtful things. He absolutely hated being confrontational, he was usually the one who tried to be the peacekeeper in situations, but he knew the saying ‘hurt people, hurt people’ was true. His desire to hurt Sarawat had diminished, along with his anger. Sadness and regret was all that was left in the depths of his heart. Having the time apart made him realise that being apart permanently was the best idea. He got a referral for a divorce lawyer from his boss and had contacted him to write up the documents. His dad had reluctantly agreed to drop it off at Sarawat’s parent’s house, but Tine knew the older man was stalling since he hadn’t done it yet.

Teddi pulled roughly on her leash, startling Tine out of his thoughts. She was barking like crazy and pulled him with all of her strength to a soccer field where a group of men were playing for fun. “Teddi,” Tine tried to pull her back, but she wouldn’t stop barking. He lost his footing and slipped on the grass of the field. Teddi took her chance and ran towards the men who were playing. Tine scrambled like crazy to get up and run to her. He watched as she stopped at the edge of the game and moved her head frantically as she looked at the players, her tail wagging in excitement. They glanced over at her and grinned, but continued to play. As Tine approached her, he could see she had stopped wagging her tail and was now whining. He crouched down beside her and kissed the side of her head, “I know you miss him. I miss him too.” He whispered next to her ear before he sat down to watch the soccer players running along. His mind wandered off once again.

“Ugh, why did I ever agree to play with you Saraleo?” Tine whined in between his gasps for air as he ran across the field chasing behind his husband as they played soccer. It had been two weeks after they had sex for the first time and Sarawat had suggested that they play a ‘chill’ game of soccer. Little did Tine know at the time that his husband planned to straight up destroy him. Sarawat was kicking the soccer ball with expertise towards Tine’s goal before he kicked it in, hitting the back of the net. He threw his arms up in the air in triumph. Tine stopped running and put his hands on his hips.

“Because you thought you’d actually have a chance nuisance,” Sarawat smirked at him and sauntered over to Teddi who was watching from the sidelines. It took a lot of training, but Sarawat had managed to make sure that Teddi didn’t run for the ball until he whistled for her.

“I think I’m dying.” Tine exclaimed before he grabbed the ball from his net. He placed it in front of him and sneakily kicked it across the field while Sarawat was distracted with Teddi. Here was his chance to finally score a goal.

“Hey!” He could hear Sarawat huffing behind him as he approached Sarawat’s undefended goal. He pulled back his leg to kick and his foot connected with something hard, “Ow!” Sarawat yelled and crumpled to the ground. Tine whipped his head around and watched as the other man clutched his shin in pain, “Tine.” Sarawat had whimpered out, “I think it’s broken.” Tine’s eyes widened in shock at what he had done and he immediately turned to help the other man on the ground.

“Shit Sarawat, I’m so sorry.” He crouched down and focused his eyes on the man’s leg, “Let me see it.” The next thing he knew he felt Sarawat wrap his arms around his upper body and pulled him down on top of him. “Oomph.” He landed directly on the other man’s chest. Their faces were inches apart from each other. “Ugh, what are you doing?” Tine stared down at his husband. Sarawat grinned, tilted his head to the side, and lifted his head up. He pressed a soft kiss to Tine’s parted lips.

“I’m kissing you.”He whispered before placing a longer kiss to Tine’s lips. Tine pulled back.

“Shit, are you crazy.” Tine’s eyes darted around, “Someone could see us.”

Sarawat looked around too, “Oh shit you think so?”

Tine nodded frantically, “Yea.”

“Oh, then I probably shouldn’t do this.” Sarawat smiled before flipping him over so that Tine was on his back and Sarawat was now straddling him.

“No, you just made this ten times worse Saraleo.” Tine hissed as he felt his face getting hotter. Sarawat leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss to Tine’s forehead, his nose, his cheeks, his chin, and finally a quick peck to Tine’s lips before he lifted his head. He stared down into Tine’s eyes causing Tine to feel light headed as his heart bounced around. He didn’t know how it was possible to feel so drunk on Sarawat’s attention.

Sarawat chuckled before he gave Tine a small smile, “You are so handsome little buffalo.” His eyes were earnest, but Tine scoffed and shook his head. According to Team Sarawat’s Wives, that was far from the truth. They had said that he was somewhat cute at best.

“I’m really not.” He muttered under his breath. “But thanks.” Sarawat frowned and gently kissed him again. This time Tine closed his eyes as he felt Sarawat’s tongue slip between his lips. He slowly opened his mouth to let him in as their tongues slid over each other. His breathing quickened under the attention before Sarawat pulled back and Tine involuntarily whimpered. Sarawat arched a brow at the sound which made Tine flush even more, he tried to cover it up with a cough. “You’re so heavy get off.”

Sarawat shook his head “Nah, don’t feel like it.” Sarawat pursed his lips and let out a shrill whistle. Tine turned his head and watched as Teddi bolted towards them. She skirted to a stop beside them and licked their faces happily now that she had been able to join in on the fun. Tine laughed and tried to turn his face away.

“Ugh, Saraleo.” He managed to get out as Teddi tried licking his mouth. Sarawat laughed one of his rare booming laughs, his mouth open wide before he fell to Tine’s side and watched him get attacked by the small dog.

“Hey did you want to play?” Tine blinked quickly and looked up at one of the players who was yelling down at him. Tine took out one of his ear buds and shook his head.

“No thanks.” Tine rejected the offer. The other man shrugged and ran off to join the other men who were playing. Tine stood up, internally pushed down the ache in his heart, and walked back home with a less excited Teddi.

The small dog scurried up the steps to their bedroom after Tine had wiped down her dirty paws with a towel.  “Had a good walk?” His mom asked while her attention remained focused on the baking show that she and his dad were watching. Tine glanced over at her.

“Yea, I have some documents to go over. I’ll come down and help you with dinner in a bit.” He informed her. She nodded and he headed up to his room, closing the door behind him. He opened his laptop and was about to settle down on his bed when Teddi ran to the bedroom door and scratched excitedly at it. Tine eyed her with confusion when the sound of the doorbell rang through the house. He whipped his head in the direction of the window and looked out to see Sarawat’s white car parked out front. His heart stopped and his mind went blank. Quickly he walked over to his door and put his hand on the doorknob. What am I doing? He paused and glanced down at the dog that was jumping with excitement, barking out her commands to let her out. Tine slowly let go of the doorknob and walked back over to the window, leaning out in hopes of seeing something. He heard the front door open below him. “Teddi shh.” He commanded to the dog that was still jumping up and barking, “Teddi.” He said again his voice was even lower this time. The dog stopped barking and continued staring at the door. Tine turned his head and strained to listen.

“-to see Tine.” He could hear Sarawat say. Oh god, he hadn’t heard his voice in so long. Just hearing it now gave him goose bumps along his arms.

“I don’t think that’s for the best.” His dad’s voice responded.

“Mr. Teepakorn, I’ve been trying to speak to him for weeks.”

“I know, but Tine doesn’t want to see you. He’s still-,” his dad paused, “dealing with all of this.” There was a long pause where Tine didn’t hear any sounds from below. “Sarawat, I know you’re a good person. I really do, but what you did-“

“I know.” Sarawat answered, “I regret it every day. I miss him.”

Tine heard his dad sigh, “I think he misses you too, but don’t tell him I said that.” His dad gave a small chuckle. Tine rolled his eyes and took in a deep breath. He really wished his dad wouldn’t say things like that. He didn’t think it was appropriate to give Sarawat hope.

“Really?” Sarawat asked, his voice was low enough that Tine almost missed it. “Does he talk about me?”

“Not really. But I know my son and I know his heart.”

“I’m really sorry Mr. Teepakorn, all of this is my fault. All of this was my idea.”

“Doesn’t matter whose idea it was to do this. What matters is where you two are now in all of this.”

“I just want him to talk to me.” Sarawat paused, “I just need to tell him I’m sorry again. I’ll do anything.” Tine could hear a slight commotion from below and leaned out of the window to get a better view, but almost fell and stabilized himself. Shit, if he fell out the window, he’d break another arm. “Hi Mrs. Teepakorn.”

“Hi Sarawat.” His mother replied, “Are you getting much sleep? You don’t look so good.”

“I’m fine.”

“Sarawat.” His mother’s tone was stern.

“Really, I’m okay.”  There was a pause.

“Try to get some rest. If this is meant to work out, it will.  Not sleeping and beating yourself up over this will not bring Tine back to you. It’s just going to make you sick.”

“I know.” Sarawat answered. Tine could hear the hesitation in the other man’s voice.

“Mhm alright, here Pluem. Don’t forget this.” His mother said to his father.

“Oh, yes right. Thanks.” His dad responded.

“Good night Sarawat.” Tine heard his mother say.

“Night.” Sarawat replied.

“Wat, here. These are from Tine.” Tine could hear the crinkling of paper. Oh shit, the divorce papers. He had totally forgotten all about them. Ugh dad, you weren’t supposed to give them to him directly. He had given the man one job and now he felt bad that his parents had to pretty much serve Sarawat the papers. He had hoped that by his dad giving it to Sarawat’s dad, that maybe Sarawat would have been surrounded by people he cared about when he opened them. But now who knew who would be there to make sure he was okay after he saw them. Tine sighed and shook his head, no, not his problem. Whatever, it was good that he had them now. That meant their divorce process could start as soon as possible, which is exactly what he wanted.

“Oh.” Sarawat said slowly. “Are they-“

“I can’t say what they are. I was supposed to bring them to your dad’s and drop them off there. I didn’t expect to see you face to face.”

Another pause, “Thanks.” Tine could hear a slight break in Sarawat’s voice.

“Read it when you get home.” His dad instructed.

“Okay,” Sarawat’s voice was barely audible now. “Please tell Tine that-,” Sarawat paused, “never mind. Thanks again. Night.” Tine leaned forward and watched as Sarawat slowly walked back to his car, his back was hunched, and his head was bowed low. As if sensing that he was being watched, Sarawat turned to look at Tine’s window. Tine quickly jumped back and stood in the middle of the floor so that he was out of sight. He could hear the car start up and listened as the engine sound faded off into the distance. He glanced at Teddi who had now lain down in front of the door. Her head rested on her paws. Sorry girl. Tine frowned, closed his laptop, and sat by the window again. He knew that he wouldn’t be able to focus on the work that he needed to do tonight after what had just happened. His mom had said that Sarawat didn’t look good. Was he sick? Was something else wrong? Should Tine call him? No. Tine shook his head. That wasn’t his business anymore. If something was wrong with Sarawat, he had enough people in his life to tend to him. Tine didn’t need to be that person anymore. Maybe he could just sneak into the condo tonight and put his hand on Sarawat’s head to see if he had a fever, maybe he wouldn’t even notice him there. Gah, what was he thinking? Stop it! This is almost over, stop making it worse, he scolded himself.  Fuck, what if Sarawat was sick and now he had to open the divorce papers by himself? What if he opened the papers before he got home and got into a car crash because he was so upset? Tine’s eyes flew open and he pulled his phone out of his pocket and immediately called Sarawat.

“Tine?” The other man breathed out after he had picked up after two rings. His voice sounded hopeful. Tine took a moment to just let the sound of the other man’s voice swaddle him up in warmth. He missed him so much. He missed hearing him. His heart flip flopped and he took a deep breath. What was he doing? Why had he called?

“Promise me that you won’t open the envelope before you get home.” He commanded as his voice cracked.

“Okay.” Sarawat said hesitantly and then sighed, “Tine, I know what they are. I don’t have to open them to know.” Tine chewed on the inside of his lip. “I miss you,” Sarawat confessed. Fuck.

“Bye.” Tine grumbled, then clicked the end call button, and threw his phone on to the bed like it was on fire. He shouldn’t have done that. Why did he do that? Damn.  He pressed his lips into a thin line and sat down by his window, looking up at the sky in hopes of seeing a few stars to calm him down. With all the lights around he could barely see anything beyond the blackness of the night. He leaned his head against the wall and fidgeted with his hands as he reminisced about the night he and Sarawat had watched the stars together.

“You better not make me fall asshole.” Tine had threatened as Sarawat led him somewhere. He was blindfolded and he was beyond concerned that the other man was going to accidentally or purposefully make him fall.

“I’ll do my best. No promises.” Sarawat had whispered near his head.

“You better do more than your best!” Tine raised his voice, half shouting.

“Shut up, you’re so loud.” Sarawat chuckled and squeezed his shoulders. “People are sleeping you know.” Tine frowned and closed his mouth. The sounds of crickets and other insects chirping and buzzing around somewhat soothed him.

“Well who told you to take me out at one in the morning?” Tine whispered harshly.

“You did.” Sarawat replied. Tine slightly stumbled as they walked, but he felt Sarawat’s strong arm wrap around his waist to stop him from falling, “So clumsy. How do you manage to trip on yourself?”

“It’s a talent okay and when did I ever say to take me out in the middle of the night.” Tine pretended to gasp, “Are you going to kill me? Is this how the story ends? Tell Teddi I loved her.”

“I could have killed you at any point in the condo, why wait until now?” There was a slight pause, “On the other hand, you were pretty annoying today.” Sarawat teased as he stopped Tine from walking, “And no you didn’t say take you out at night, but you did say you wanted to see the stars.” Tine felt his husband tug at the back of his head as he tried to unknot the fabric across Tine’s eyes. Once it came off, Tine blinked quickly and tried to look around. It was pretty dark, but he could still see enough around him to know exactly where he was.

He frowned and smacked his husband’s shoulder. “This some kind of a joke?” he whispered harshly. “We’re in your fucking backyard Saraleo.” He narrowed his eyes as he tried to adjust them to the dark, “I can barely see you.” Just as he had spoken, Sarawat turned on an electric hurricane lantern and held it up, blinding Tine. “Ugh, Wat.” Tine put his hand up in front of his face to block the light.

“Sorry.” Sarawat apologised before pulling Tine’s hand down. Tine blinked again as his eyes darted around. Off in the distance a little bit beyond the mango tree, he noticed that there was a thick beach blanket and a big dark bean bag chair on top of it. In front of the beanbag chair was a large white telescope that was pointing up to the sky. Tine’s jaw dropped before his eyes finally settled on to Sarawat’s face. The other man watched him with a raised brow, “You okay?”

Tine slowly nodded before he closed his mouth and pressed a kiss to Sarawat’s cheek.

“You did all of this?” Tine asked. Sarawat nodded. “Where the hell did you get a telescope from?” He inquired.

“Yea, I asked my parents if it was alright. Then I set it up after work.” He frowned, “I wanted to take you up near the mountains to stargaze, but we’ve been so busy.” He held the lantern a little bit higher and glanced at the set up, “I bought it the day you mentioned the stars.” He looked at Tine and gave him a sheepish grin, “Sorry, it’s not much.”

Tine reached out and took Sarawat’s hand, “This is perfect.” Tine confirmed. His heart felt like it was floating through him as he filled with happiness. No one had ever done something like this for him before.

Sarawat gave him a shy smile, “When I was a teen, I’d sneak out here at night and climb the tree.” He walked Tine over to the bean bag, “I’d go up to the highest limb and look at the stars.” He chuckled as he plopped down on to the chair, sinking into it “I’m too heavy to get that high up now.”

“What’s with you and that tree, I feel like every time I came here with my dad, I’d find you there.” Tine eyed the man and tried to figure out if he could fit beside him. Sarawat put the lantern down on the ground and opened his arms up for Tine. “What?”

“Come sit between my legs.” Sarawat explained. Tine’s eyes widened and he nervously glanced around. “It’s just us little buffalo.” Sarawat gently coaxed him. Tine nervously smiled before he turned around, his back facing Sarawat, and glanced over his shoulder as he lowered himself. Sarawat reached up and held Tine’s waist to help him slowly sit down between his legs. The man behind him leaned to the side and Tine watched as Sarawat spread out a blanket over Tine’s thighs, covering them both with the blanket. Sarawat wrapped his arms around Tine and hugged him from behind. Tine could feel his face growing warm with his hidden blush. They had been very intimate over the past three weeks, but this felt different and Tine couldn’t figure out why. “Comfortable?” Sarawat questioned by the side of his face.

“Yea, I am.” Tine said with a satisfied sigh. He felt Sarawat’s breath ghost past his cheek before his husband kissed the shell of his ear. Tine’s body shivered under the attention. Trying to distract himself, he asked his question again. “The tree, you didn’t answer.”

“Not sure, but whenever I was by it, I always felt better. Calmer. Happier.” Tine leaned back into the hard, warm, chest behind him as he listened. Sarawat continued, “And for some reason, some annoying kid always found me out here.” He squeezed his arms around Tine, “He forced me to teach him guitar once. He really sucked.”

“Hey!” Tine retorted, “Not my fault you’re a shitty teacher.” He felt Sarawat adjust himself behind him and press a kiss into his hair. His heart fluttered.

“Let me teach you again.” Sarawat whispered.

Tine scoffed, “Over my dead body.”

Sarawat made a sighing sound, “I’ll be nicer.”

Tine chuckled, “You? Nice?” Sarawat released Tine from the hug and started to slide his hands down the expanse of Tine’s torso. “Wat, wait, what are you doing?!”Tine squealed as the hands settled high up on Tine’s thighs.

“Nothing. Why? Want me to do something?” Sarawat hinted. Tine couldn’t see his face but he knew for damn sure that the other man was smirking.

“Ew no.” Tine shook his head and leaned forward to look at the telescope. “Turn off the light Wat.” He instructed and a second later they were engulfed in darkness. Tine beamed as he focused on the stars through the telescope. “So beautiful.” He said without thinking as he moved the telescope slowly to pan across the sky.

“Yea he is.” He heard Sarawat whisper behind him as the other man’s arms wrapped around his waist, and he settled his chin on Tine’s shoulder.

“Tine!” Tine’s heart skipped at the sound of his mother yelling at him from his now opened door, “What are you doing I’ve been calling you down for five minutes. I thought you wanted to prep the food.” She had her hands on her hips and her head cocked to the side. Her eyes studied him for a moment, “Are you okay?”

Tine wanted to tell her no, but he didn’t want to worry her. He plastered on a smile, “Yea, I’m good. I’ll be down in one minute, I’m sorry.” His mother stared at him for a moment longer before she walked into his room and placed a kiss to his forehead.

“You two are so alike sometimes.” She muttered as she pulled back and assessed his face. He knew that she was talking about Sarawat and him. “Alright, come down soon.” She ordered him before she walked out of his room and left him there. Teddi had taken the open door as an escape and quickly followed after his mom. Tine leaned forward and held his head in hands as he coached himself to get up and go. After a few seconds, he mustered up the strength to go help his mother in the kitchen.


Tine walked in between Air and Green after a long day of work. They had planned to go out to grab a bite together from a restaurant they had frequented. Despite the negatives that had come from Tine’s situation, his friendships had truly blossomed during this time. He had never felt closer to Green and Air as much as he had over the past month. Tine was also happy that his two co-workers had developed a friendship with each other beyond their connection to him. “Did you see that client we had around two this afternoon?” Air asked them.

Green chuckled, “Oh my god, the one who was wearing three wigs?”

Air squealed, “Yes! Don’t get me wrong, I think wigs can really change up a look and make someone look great. But why three?”

“Yes! I think if she just wore each of them on their own, she’d kill it.” Green agreed.

Tine smiled, “Maybe she just wanted some volume?” The other two looked at him as they exited their work building.

“Tine she had to duck to get through the door.” Air lowered her brows, “I’m not saying she shouldn’t wear the three wigs, I just want to know why?!” She giggled.

Green nodded, “Maybe she’s hiding all her secrets in there,” He suggested. The two of them looked at each other and burst into laughter. Tine shook his head, but grinned at their stupidity. He didn’t really feel like jumping in on their gossip today, but he did have information that he knew would floor them.

“She put them in her will you know. She has forty three wigs and she left them all to her dog Percy.” Tine informed them. They stopped in their tracks, turned their bodies to face him, looked at each other and doubled over in laughter. Green held on to Air’s shoulder as he threw his head back and cackled to the sky. Air was gasping as she slapped her knee. Tine watched them stumble around as they held each other up through their laughing fits.

“You’re fucking lying stop it!” Green said as he continued to roar with laughter, wiping his teary eyes. “Oh my god. I need to see a picture of this dog. I need visuals people!” Green choked out as Air continued to snort and giggle. “What if it’s a teacup dog? Or like a Great Dane.” He continued.

“Green shut up, you’re making this worse. Now I’m picturing this small dog wearing all those wigs.” Air guffawed and Tine beamed at the fact that he had made the two people in front of him laugh so hard. He started giggling at the image of Teddi wearing the wigs too. As he laughed, he watched Green’s face suddenly sober up. Green stared in the direction behind Tine and poked Air repeatedly on her shoulder. “Ow what are you-“ She stopped laughing as well and looked past Tine’s shoulder at something behind him. Tine panicked and quickly turned around to see what was there.

Tine’s face flushed and his pulse began to race as he stared at Sarawat standing in front of him. His jaw dropped in shock as they watched each other. Sarawat looked at Tine with a weary expression on his face and then frowned, “Hey. Can we talk?”

Chapter Text

Chapter Fifteen: Honest Feelings and Bad Timing Make the Most Painful Combination

 

The clicking of the car keys against the side of the ignition was the only sound in the small car after Sarawat had turned it off. Tine glanced at his parent’s house and then quickly looked over at the man beside him who silently sat there with his hand resting on the steering wheel. It had been an extremely awkward car ride as neither of them wished to speak to the other or at least in Tine’s case, he just didn’t know what to say. He noticed that Sarawat was staring straight ahead and it oddly reminded Tine of the first time they had seen each other in the vacant parking lot, after all those years apart, so many months ago. Tine cleared his throat and nervously fidgeted with his hands in his lap as his satchel rested against his foot.  The clicking of the keys stopped, leaving the two in complete silence. He hoped that the other man couldn’t hear how loudly his heart drummed in his chest as they sat there.

 As he waited for Sarawat to say something, he continued to observe him and allowed his eyes to travel up and down the man’s frame while trying not to be too obvious with his stares. Sarawat looked like he had lost some weight and the bags under his eyes were prominent, but the other man still looked undeniably handsome to Tine and not at all sick. Thank god, he mused to himself as he assessed the other man. He hated to admit how worried he had been about Sarawat’s health. No matter how sad he still might have felt, he wished no harm on Sarawat. He loved him and he realised that he wasn’t going to be able to get past that feeling for a very long time. It saddened him, but he had accepted his fate. He had fallen in love with an unavailable man who he could no longer trust. His hands twitched in his lap as he internally wished that he could just reach over and touch him in some way, but his mind told him not to. He watched as Sarawat took a deep breath, puffed out his chest, and leaned back against the driver’s seat. He turned his head to look at Tine. Tine’s breath hitched in his throat as the other man’s eyes bore deeply into his. The gaze made his entire body vibrate with nerves. He quickly looked away and studied his hands as if he had never seen them before. Fuck, why was he so nervous? Was the other man going to yell at him because of the papers? Tell him that he was going to be with Oak now?

“Um,” Sarawat started saying and then paused, “thanks for seeing me.”

“Yea, for sure.” Tine answered, his head still hung low and his shoulders hunched.

“Yea, I wasn’t sure if you would since you didn’t answer my calls.” Sarawat admitted.

“Sorry,” Tine mumbled.

“No, it’s fine. I heard your voice through your voicemail every day,” Sarawat cleared his throat, “it was nice.” He muttered under his breath. Tine quickly glanced over at Sarawat and found him still staring at him, a small smile on his face. Was he telling the truth? Why would he care about hearing him? He frowned and studied the other man.

“Okay.” Tine answered, but he really didn’t know what to say.

Sarawat shook his head and averted his gaze, “Maybe I shouldn’t have said that, but I just want to be honest about shit and communicate.” He exhaled, “I know I fucked up. I know you want a divorce, but-”he paused, “I can’t do it. I can’t let you go. I want to work on this. It’ll be hard, I know that. But I’m here for it. I’m here for all the challenges.” He turned to face Tine, “Because I can’t imagine anything being harder than not being with you.” Tine watched the other man carefully as his heart began to thump faster in his chest and his hands felt clammy. What? What did he-? Tine swallowed and closed his eyes tightly. How could he say that? How could Tine even believe something like that? He felt Sarawat’s finger under his chin and opened his eyes. “Tine, I love you. I always have. I always will.” Sarawat confessed. His voice was barely above a whisper. Tine flushed and turned his head away to look out the window. Now he knew for sure that Sarawat was lying. He had always loved him? No, there was no way. He would have seen it. He would have noticed if someone had been in love with him. No, it didn’t add up. This was just another one of his lies to try to make Tine feel better or something. He just wanted this all to stop. No, he needed it to stop.

“Sarawat,” Tine swallowed hard as his mind raced. He needed to change the topic, focus on something else or he was going to go crazy. He glanced over at the man in the driver’s seat, “I-I wanted to say sorry for snapping at you at the condo and for saying a lot of things I didn’t really mean. I-I don’t blame you for what happened with the security guard, that wasn’t your fault. I should have called the police.”

Sarawat wrinkled his brow in confusion, “Tine, I said that I love you.” Sarawat said again as he leaned forward in his seat and angled his body towards Tine. “Didn’t you hear me?”

“I heard what you said.” Tine responded instantly and looked down at his lap, “But I don’t believe you.” There was a long silence from Sarawat that followed after his response. Tine turned to look at the other. Sarawat’s brow was deeply furrowed and his lips were pressed together.

“Look,” Sarawat said slowly, “I’ve loved you for as long as I can remember. I’ve loved you since I learned what love even was.” He shook his head, “I know my lies hurt you. I know I can’t fix that, but I swear I can be better. I can change.” He nibbled on his lip and then fixed his eyes on Tine. Tine could see that the other man was becoming more frantic “I’ll do anything. If you want us to start fresh in another country, then I’ll fucking pack up and leave Thailand,” Sarawat rambled on, “I hate talking about myself, but I’ll go see a counsellor with you. I’ll even leave my job and work for another organization away from Oak. Tine-,” Sarawat begged as he finally took a breath, “please don’t give up on us. I swear I can do this. I can build back your trust. I can prove it to you.” His voice cracked, “Give me another chance.”

Tine’s eyes were wide. He had just spent the last month convincing himself that Sarawat had just pitied him, that he had just thrown himself at a man who didn’t actually want him, that he wasn’t good enough for Sarawat. He had spent nights crying into his pillow willing his heart to heal, to move on as fast as it could so that he could go back to his life. For the past few days he hadn’t needed to wear his paparazzi gear because without Sarawat around, they didn’t care too much about Tine anymore. His time had been focused on getting better and restoring relationships with the people that he had neglected because of the whole stupid arrangement. He was slowly transitioning into a better version of himself and he wasn’t sure that he could go back to the way things had been. The stress, the jealousy, the anxiety, the self doubt, well he was still dealing with that last one, but it wasn’t constantly thrown into his face anymore.

He studied the other man. Sarawat had told him before that Tine was all he had ever wanted and now he was telling him that he had always been in love with him. Why hadn’t he told him any of this before he was given the divorce papers? Why did he sleep with someone else for years and make absolutely no attempt to ever say anything to Tine before this all happened? And if he had loved him this whole time then what was his true motive behind the marriage arrangement in the first place? It just felt like the more he thought about what was being said to him the surer he was that he couldn’t trust Sarawat.

“Tine,” Sarawat called out to him, his eyes raking over Tine’s face.

Tine stared at him before a slew of questions tumbled out of his mouth, “How could you be in love with me and sleep with someone else for years? How could you be in love with me and never tell me? How could you be in love with me and purposefully enter a fake marriage with me knowing how you felt?” Tine cocked his head to the side, his eyes slightly narrowed.

Sarawat looked down for a moment and then back up, “I just- I thought that you’d never be into me and I’m human, I have needs.” Sarawat defended himself, “I wanted to feel a warm body beside me. And Oak was there and so were other random guys. I wasn’t just sleeping with Oak.” He dragged his fingers through his hair as he tried to explain, “But you’re the only person I’ve ever loved Tine.” He stared at Tine, “I really thought you were straight and when I had the arrangement idea, I swore I was over you.” He shrugged, “But I wasn’t,” he mumbled, “I should have called off the wedding when I realised it. I was wrong. I’m sorry.”

Tine’s body tensed as his mind and heart fought over each other for dominance in the situation. Sarawat confessing that he had slept with other men didn’t make Tine feel any less insecure about the other’s relationship with Oak. It was one thing if Oak was random like the others, but he was consistent, which meant something about him had obviously appealed to Sarawat. Everyone knew that Sarawat was a loner who kept to himself, so what had made Oak special? Why had he held on to him? No matter what Tine heard the other man say, he just couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something deeper between Sarawat and Oak that the other man just couldn’t admit. This meant that Sarawat was probably still lying to him and that was a painful reality that Tine couldn’t handle.  “You’ve kept so much from me.” Tine accused him. “How do you expect me to ever trust you again? Or how can I believe a single thing that you say to me? How can I be a hundred percent sure that you’re not lying?”

Sarawat frowned, “I don’t expect you to trust me. And I know why you don’t.” He squinted, “I just want you to learn to believe in me again. Because no matter what I say, you’ll just think I’m a liar. So, I want to show you how I feel.” Sarawat sighed and hesitantly reached out to touch Tine’s arm and then pulled his hand back, “Listen, I’ll do whatever.”Sarawat pleaded as he leaned towards Tine. “I just-I want you to be happy. That’s it.”

Happy? Tine wrapped his arms around his body and rubbed the side of his arm. He loved Sarawat. He hadn’t always, but those past few months had been the most intense feelings he had ever had. Even when he didn’t know exactly what it was that he was feeling, he knew that it was something deep. But there was just so much to be unsure about. He didn’t know if he could really believe in Sarawat when he had hidden so much of himself away from Tine. How could he really believe in Sarawat’s feelings for him when he had withheld them from him just like everything else? Tine sighed and looked at the other man, “Getting divorced will make me happy.” Tine somewhat lied. He wasn’t sure if a divorce would be the thing to bring him happiness, but he knew that a clean slate would.

Sarawat’s face drained of all colour and Tine could see him visibly wince as if he had been struck. Sarawat tilted his head forward and swallowed hard, “Okay.” He slowly relented, an air of defeat oozed out of him. “I’ll sign the papers.” Sarawat looked away from him and placed his hand on the steering wheel. Tine could see that his hand was shaking.

“Thanks.” Tine said in a small voice as his heart ached at the reality of what they had actually just agreed to. “We’ll meet at the lawyer’s office on the eighth.”

“I’ll try to be there.” Sarawat answered stiffly, as he still averted his gaze. Feeling the pressure against his chest again, Tine absentmindedly started twisting his wedding band around his finger, his gaze was directed downwards. He felt Sarawat’s warm hand cover his fidgeting one.  He looked up into the other man’s sad eyes and slightly gasped at the pain he saw there. “You still wear your ring?” Sarawat observed as he glanced at Tine’s hand. Tine looked down at the ring in slight surprise. It had never occurred to him to take it off. Why hadn’t he thought of that? He paused and then lifted his hands to begin tugging the ring off of his finger. Sarawat held Tine’s hands to make him stop.

Tine looked at him in confusion, the hairs on his arms stood up from the contact, “You bought the rings. I’ll give it back to you so you can sell it.”

Sarawat shook his head before he locked his gaze on the other man, “It was never mine.” He whispered, “It was always yours.” They stared at each other. Sarawat’s hands cupped both of Tines, almost cocooning them as his thumbs rubbed over Tine’s skin. “Please keep it.” He implored quietly. Tine opened his mouth to say something and then closed it before giving a small nod. If this small act was all he wanted from him, then he’d do it.  “Thanks.” Sarawat slowly let the other man’s hands go and immediately turned the key to start up the car. Tine watched him for a moment more before he grabbed his satchel from by his feet. “Tine,” Sarawat’s voice shook again as he looked at Tine, he let out a loud exhale through his nose, “I’m really sorry.”

Tine pressed his lips together in hopes that Sarawat wouldn’t see his chin tremble. “I’m sorry too.” Tine replied. He was sorry that he couldn’t handle the pressure of Sarawat’s life. He was sorry that Sarawat couldn’t have been honest with him. He was sorry that he couldn’t be there for Sarawat when he clearly needed someone right now. And he was sorry that he just couldn’t believe that Sarawat could have ever really loved him. He opened the car door and slid out of the seat, closing the door behind him. Sarawat gave him one last sorrowful look before he turned his head to look away. Tine watched as Sarawat reversed out of the driveway and sped off down the road. He thought that he would feel better once he had turned the page on that chapter, but he only felt so much more devastated. Sighing, he glanced at his wedding ring again and turned to walk to his parent’s front door.


“Are you sure Man isn’t there with you?” Tine asked again. He held the cell phone against his ear as he spoke to his older brother. His eyes were glued to the scenery whizzing by the car window while he sat in the back of a taxi on his way to Type and Man’s apartment for dinner. He hadn’t seen his brother since the whole press conference situation happened about a month and a week before. They had spoken on the phone a countless number of times since then due to Type’s constant checkups. Tine had found it odd that Type never mentioned anything relating to Sarawat and he could only assume it was because Man was usually around when they were on their calls. Since Man and Sarawat were best friends, Tine didn’t feel comfortable going to the apartment. But after his brother had assured him that Man was out of town he had decided to go. Tine had reverted back to his introverted self since he and Sarawat had spoken in the car a week ago. After their conversation the other man had stopped calling him. Every day, the reality that they were going to get divorced, continued to weigh on Tine even though it had been his decision in the first place. He had initially hoped that his choice to get the divorce papers drawn up before Sarawat had a chance to do it himself, would make him feel more in control, but he just remained conflicted on whether or not he had done the right thing.

“Yea, I told you he went to go spend time with his family this weekend.” Type reassured him, “Are you almost here?” Tine turned his head to look at a familiar street sign that they had just passed.

“Yea, like one minute away.” He answered. Tine thought that it would be nice to see his brother. Since Type had moved to the outskirts of the city with Man, Tine didn’t get to see him as much. And since Tine had been dealing with his own marital situations, it had made getting time to go out there more challenging. The taxi pulled to a stop in front of the apartment building. Tine gave the man the fare plus a tip and scooted out of the car.  “I’m here.” Tine announced to his brother who was still on the phone as he walked to the main entrance.

“I know I can see you.” Type waved from behind the door and let his brother inside. They both hung up their phones and hugged each other. Type’s face pressed into Tine’s chest. “I still don’t think it’s fair you got the tall genes. I mean I got the intelligence genes, so I guess it was a fair trade.” He mumbled against Tine’s shirt.

Tine rolled his eyes and squeezed his older brother, “Whatever, it’s karma for all the times you bullied me as a child.” Type pulled back and donned a shocked expression.

“Bullied you? I would never.” He smirked and turned to walk to the elevators, “I was such an innocent boy.”

“Bullshit, people might have believed you that you didn’t have a part in me falling off of the roof, but you and I both know the truth.” Tine scoffed as he followed the other man into the elevator shaft. Type looked at him from the corner of his eyes and smiled.

“I didn’t think you’d actually do it Tine.” Type folded his arms across his chest, “I momentarily forgot that I was the smarter one, but you gotta admit I was super nice to you after all that happened.” Tine laughed and scrunched up his mouth in thought.

“Was it my broken arm or my massive growth spurt that made you nicer?” Tine questioned. Type shrugged as the elevator doors opened and they walked out.

“I guess we’ll never know little brother.” Type emphasized the word little as he put his key into the door, “Anyway, you might be taller, but I definitely have more muscle mass.”

“What?” Tine screeched before he lifted his arms up to show his brother and flexed his muscles, “Somebody better call the vet, cause these puppies are sick.” Tine smiled widely at his brother who in turn was looking at him in complete disgust.

“Ew.” Type said as he pushed the door open. “Never do that again or I’ll disown you as my brother.” The shorter man threatened. Tine chuckled and followed his brother into the cozy apartment, but immediately stopped in his tracks when he saw Man sitting on the couch watching them as they walked in.

Type gently pushed Tine inside and closed the door behind him. Tine looked over at his brother who stared at him with his arms folded over his chest. “It’s pretty twisted to lie to your brother when he’s really having trust issues right now.” Tine accused as he stared at the older man before he glanced back over at Man.

“I know and you’re right. But we thought you needed an intervention and figured it would take the both of us to have you listen. I’m sorry.” Type apologised in a sincere voice. Tine sighed and shook his head as he walked into the living room. He was tired of hearing that word ‘sorry’ what did it even mean anymore?

“Hey baby bro!” Mike exclaimed happily as he stood up and extended his arms out for a hug. Tine sighed and reluctantly hugged the other man.

“We’re the same age Man.” Tine muttered before he let go and flopped down on to the couch. Type sat down beside Tine and Man sat on the couch across from them. Tine frowned and immediately became defensive. He crossed his legs at the ankles and folded his arms across his chest. “What’s this all about then?” He rudely asked.

Man looked at Type and Type turned to his brother, “We think you’re making a mistake by divorcing Wat.” Wow straight to the point. Tine adjusted himself on the couch, “We both agree that Sarawat was a complete idiot for not telling you about that co-worker of his, but” Type paused and looked at his husband, “We know about the arrangement and we think that you guys can really work past this.” Tine’s eyes widened. Fuck, so they knew too. Who the hell didn’t know at this point anymore?

“Yea, Sarawat told me and of course I had to tell your brother because he was ready to murder Wat and wanted me to completely end my friendship with him.” Man’s brows knitted together in fear as he glanced at his husband, who Tine knew was small yet mighty.

Tine shook his head, “How can we work past this when I can’t trust what he says to me? When I question his feelings every time we’re together?” He scoffed, “He said he loves me and has always loved me.” He feigned a laugh, “Can you even believe that? Like what does he get from lying to me about that?” Type and Man looked at each other with confused expressions and then back over at Tine. Tine looked at them with a worried expression, “What?”

“Fuck,” Type started and his jaw dropped, “How did you honestly become a lawyer when you’re clearly dense?” His eyes widened and he put his hand on Tine’s arm, “I love you, but wow.”

Tine furrowed his brow and moved his arm away, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Type licked his bottom lip and squinted his eyes, “Sarawat does love you. He’s been in love with you since I fucking had to babysit you two as kids over at the Guntihanon’s when our dad’s were shooting the shit.”

“Why does everyone keep saying that? Why am I not seeing it then?” Tine questioned as his heart began to race. Was everyone conspiring against him? Or was he really just that blind?

“I really don’t know.” Type glanced at Man and then looked back at his brother, “Maybe you just didn’t want to see it? I mean, you were heterosexual up until a few months ago, well you thought you were at least.” He shrugged, “Maybe you just thought Sarawat was bothering you or teasing you. Since he did bug you a lot, he just always knew how to get under your skin, that little bugger.” Type admitted.

Man nodded, “Sarawat is really bad at flirting. Like really bad.” He shook his head, “He might come off as this suave cool dude, but let me tell you, that guy has no fucking game.” His eyes widened, “Don’t tell him I said that though. He might not have game, but he would probably kill me.” Tine leaned forward and stared at his hands. What? Wait what? “He always used to gush about you to Boss and me all through high school. I mean I only tolerated it of course because I got to gush about Type and Wat was always able to give me info about the man of my life. He was my private FBI agent.” Man continued to explain. Gushing? About him? Tine’s brain felt like it was malfunctioning as he pictured Sarawat professing his crush on Tine to his best friends. His whole idea of the other man was crumbling at a fast rate and it freaked him out.

Tine blinked quickly and shook his head, still refusing to look up, “How do I know that he didn’t just tell you to tell me that.”

Man guffawed, “Do you even know Sarawat? He’d be so pissed if he knew that I was telling you any of this. Wat’s a really private guy, aside from the bands he was listening to and being really into you, he didn’t talk much about himself.” Man paused, “Like we never knew he was even sleeping with anyone, he never mentioned Oak before. In fact I thought Wat was a straight up virgin until you two got married.” Tine could hear Man chuckle, “That dude never says shit. Just observes. He’s like a handsome shadow.” Man mused out loud.  Tine didn’t quite listen to the rest of what Man had said. His mind had paused at the mention of Sarawat being really into him.

“But why? What about me would make him love me?” He inquired as he maintained his downward gaze, “I don’t have anything for him to love.”

“I’ve heard you say some dumb shit before, but that might be the dumbest.” Type said in a serious tone. Tine looked up at him and scowled, “You’re an amazing person and you’ve always been caring, no matter how annoying you could be growing up, you were always the nicer one between us. Sarawat was clearly drawn to you.”

“He said he fell in love with your bunny teeth smile,” Man chimed in, “Said that anytime you were near him he felt like the sun had come out. He used that metaphor a lot actually, he felt like he was the moon and you were like the sun, both couldn’t exist together unless there was a lunar eclipse or you collided. Something like that.” Tine’s heart began to flutter at the thought of Sarawat saying that about him. So he was telling the truth then. This whole time he had convinced himself, until he had physically felt ill, that Sarawat could never be into him, that he was just lying. But here it was. Sarawat loved him. Tine covered his face as his cheeks became hot. Fuck. What the fuck had he done? He pulled his hands down his cheeks, stretching the skin.

“That’s a simile.” Type corrected his husband.

Man beamed at the other man, “My baby is so smart.” He blew a kiss to Type and Type frowned, but Tine could see the smile in his brother's eyes.

“Ugh! Why did he never fucking tell me then?!” He groaned and lowered his head. “He had so much time! He had our whole lives.”

“Uh well,” Man started to say and then stopped. Tine pushed his fingers through his hair and lifted up his head.

“What?”

“Like I said, Sarawat has really bad game. And he’s kind of a person that if he feels shut down, he’ll just leave you alone. He’ll lick his wounds and try to get over it. He doesn’t beg or try again, that’s how he deals with his insecurities,” Man coughed. “Again, please don’t tell him I said that.”

Tine stared at him, “What are you saying? Did I shut him down or something?” Tine watched as Man looked at Type. “Oh my god, I did? When?”

Type sighed, “You didn’t mean to and it was kind of our fault I guess.” He looked at Man and then at Tine, “We encouraged him to make a move on you and I don’t think he was all the way ready, in fact we really didn’t think he was going to do something, but he tried and it kind of blew up in his face.” Type frowned, “It really wasn’t your fault. You didn’t know what was happening.” Tine stared at his brother.

“Wait,” His mind churned through his memories, “Was it-“ he furrowed his brows as he thought about his times with Sarawat as an adult, “was it at your wedding?” It had to have been, that was the last time they had seen each other before all of this happened.

“Yea.” The married couple said in unison. Fuck. Tine struggled to figure out what they were talking about. Tine sat there silently as he did his best to replay that somewhat hazy night.

 

Fong, Ohm, and Phuak were laughing drunkenly together as they joked around with each other. Tine stared at his friends and smiled as he brought his glass of beer to his mouth. He was happy that he had been able to bring his best friends along to his brother’s wedding, since his date had bailed on him last minute. It seemed to be the usual story for Tine. He’d like a girl and then she’d see something wrong with him and bail. He had essentially resigned himself to a life of loneliness and heartbreak. It seemed to be the path he was on. Seeing how upset Tine had been about being ditched, Type had suggested that he bring the goofballs along to keep him distracted. And thankfully, it had worked out for the better. They were twenty one years old and a bit rambunctious, but they knew how to cheer up their best friend. Ohm put his arm around Tine’s shoulders and spoke close to the other man’s ear, “Dude this wedding is sick.”He chirped happily to his friend, “Open bar, hot chicks, and I look so good. This is the best day of my life, I feel like I’m the one who fucking got married.” He yelled into Tine’s ear and Tine had to put his finger in his ear and shook it stop the itchy feeling.

Tine smiled back at him, he was tipsy, but not as drunk as the other three. His parents were there so he needed to have some semblance of being in control of himself. He turned his face and spoke to the man beside him, “Good, just don’t throw up on anything or yourself.” He advised. He had seen enough of his friends to know how badly the night could have ended for them. One time Fong had gotten so drunk after his girlfriend had broken up with him that he had managed to kick Tine in the face. To this day they’re still not too sure how that had all happened, but Tine remembered the kick and the black eye he sported for a week. Got him a few dates back in undergrad for sure. Ohm laughed right into his face which made Tine squint as the smell of booze hit his eyes.

Ohm pointed to a random girl over in the corner of the room who was dancing with some friends, “See that girl?” Tine turned to look at her and noticed that she was very cute. He nodded to the other man, “I’m going to go home with her.” Ohm informed Tine. Tine looked at him and gave him an incredulous stare. Ohm looked at Tine and nodded, “Yea, I swear. I’m going to take that girl home.”

“Uh, are you sure?” Tine frowned, “You’re wasted and she’s pretty attractive.” Ohm smacked his chest.

“Watch, just watch me.” He cleared his throat and pushed up from the table before he made his way on to the dance floor. Tine watched as the other man managed to do an impressive form of the robot as he approached the girl and her friends. He could see his friend lean over to her and whisper something into her ear before she nodded and moved on to dance with him. Tine was absolutely shocked. It was even more shocking that he ended up as the best man at their wedding three years later.

“The fuck?” Phuak stood up and stared after his friend who was now doing some variation of the funky chicken on the dance floor, “How did Ohm score that girl?”

Fong shook his head, “Prayer and a lot of it.” He laughed, walked over to Tine, and squeezed his shoulders. Tine looked up at his friend and smiled.

“Crazy right? He told me he was going to do it. And do it he did!” He shook his head and the three of them stared at Ohm. Tine was happy for his friend, but there was an underlying feeling of jealousy. When would he be able to be suave enough like that to get a girl to even think about dancing with him?

Phuak smacked Tine’s arm, “Put yourself out there man! Go get you one of those pretty ladies.”

“Uh,” Tine frowned. He didn’t think he could handle any more rejection right now. “Maybe in a bit. Have to finish my beer.” He held up the glass in his hand. Phuak nodded.

“Alright, well I’m going to head out there and see who wants all of this.” He gestured to his body before he walked away and got lost in the crowd of wedding guests. Tine glanced at Fong, who was still standing behind him, but the other man’s attention was on a girl looking their way. She pointed to Fong and gestured him over with her finger.

“You don’t have to stay with me you know.” He said to his best friend. Fong looked at him and gave him a goofy smile.

“You sure man? I mean I don’t mind. Technically we’re your date to this thing.” Fong questioned. Tine forced a laugh and shook his head.

“Go, I’m good.”

His friend stared at him for a bit longer and then nodded, “Alright, I’ll come back to check on you.” He assured Tine before he impressively managed to walk without staggering despite all the beer he had consumed. Tine smiled after his friends. He glanced over at his parents who were also on the dance floor. His dad was twirling his mother to the fast music and she was laughing up a storm. Tine sighed and drank more of his beer. He hunched his back and stared down at the table. The feeling of a heavy hand against his hair made him jolt out of his daze. He quickly turned his head to look up at Sarawat, who was smirking down at him. Both Sarawat and Boss were Man’s best men at the wedding. Man had chosen both of them because he couldn’t decide between the two. As annoying as Tine found Sarawat, it had been nice to see him again after the other man had left to go to the States for school.

“Oh great, just what I needed right now. To be teased.”Tine muttered as his eyes studied the other man’s face.

“What?” Sarawat said before lowering his head so that his ear was near Tine’s mouth. Tine put his hand on the side of Sarawat’s face, pulled the man’s head closer to him, and leaned in before repeating what he had said. Sarawat turned his face to look at Tine, suddenly making their lips inches apart. Tine immediately dropped his hand and cleared his throat. He could feel his cheeks get warm and decided that it must be from the beer. “I’m not here to tease you nuisance.” Sarawat said close to his head before he straightened up. Tine rolled his eyes.

“Not here to tease, but you call me names. Well thanks, dickhead.” He spoke loudly above the music. He was about to reach for his drink when Sarawat grabbed his hand. Tine’s eyes widened in shock as Sarawat stared down at him. “What are you doing?” Tine tried to tug his hand away.

“Dance with me.” Sarawat said loudly. Tine stopped tugging and his jaw dropped down. Was he making fun of him for being alone? Or was he pitying him? Was he imagining this? How drunk was he?

“That’s not funny.” Tine said in a serious tone as Sarawat continued to hold his hand. The music slowly transitioned into a slow song.

“Good. Because I’m not joking.” Sarawat retorted. What? Before Tine had a chance to think any further, the other man yanked him up from his seat and pulled him into the middle of the dance floor. He let Tine’s hand go and they stared awkwardly at each other. Tine frowned and glanced around at the couples who were dancing. He saw his brother and Man dancing off in the corner, staring into each other’s eyes. Tine watched them until he felt Sarawat’s hand on his lower back, pulling him against him.

“Woah.” Tine yelped and gawked at the other man. “What are you trying to do?”

Sarawat raised a brow and looked at the other man as if he were dumb, “Uh, dance.” Tine sighed and pushed Sarawat’s hand off of his lower back. Sarawat frowned.

“Why do you get to lead?” Tine whined before he put his hand on Sarawat’s lower back instead. Sarawat’s eyes widened as he studied Tine. “I want to do it.” Tine said over the music. Sarawat put his hand on Tine’s shoulder and his other hand clasped Tine’s. They stood still, not moving. Fuck. Tine knew nothing at all about dancing.

“Okay. So lead.” Sarawat shook their clasped hands. Tine frowned and glanced down. Ugh how embarrassing. “You’re so ridiculous. Here.” Sarawat moved Tine’s left hand up from his lower back, putting it over his shoulder and took Tine’s right hand and slung it over his shoulder as well. He wrapped his arms around Tine’s waist and pulled him even closer. Oh shit. Tine’s eyebrows flew to his hairline as his chest pressed against Sarawat’s. Tine slid his hands down to rest on the sides of Sarawat’s biceps as the other man began to sway to the music, his eyes never leaving Tine’s. Tine gulped and nervously glanced to the side to see if anyone was looking at them, but people were lost in their own worlds. His eyes finally settled back on Sarawat’s face as they danced together. Maybe it was the beer talking, but Sarawat looked extremely good. “You okay?” Sarawat asked. Tine nibbled on his bottom lip and nodded as his eyes bore into the others. This was weird right? Tine looked down and stared at Sarawat’s chest. The tuxedo he was wearing looked like it had been made just for him as it settled into all the right places. Wait what? What the fuck was he thinking? Yea this was definitely weird.

“I’m kind of craving a hamburger.” Tine admitted with a laugh. “All that food and not one damn burger.” He joked as he kept his gaze downwards.

“Yea?” Sarawat asked, “What kind?” Tine felt the other man’s hands readjust along his lower back and settle right above his ass. Tine glanced up at Sarawat’s face and observed the small smile on his lips. His nice, full, and plump lips. The fuck? Tine squeezed his eyes shut and nodded. “Why are you nodding? You didn’t answer.”

Tine cleared his throat and shook his head to clear his thoughts, “Um, a juicy homemade beef burger with tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, onions, a little bit of ketchup, tons of mayo, and a few chilli peppers.” He reluctantly opened his eyes and looked at Sarawat.

Sarawat scrunched up his face, “Mayo?” He questioned, “Gross.”

Tine scoffed, “You’re gross.” He retorted to which Sarawat chuckled. Tine smiled at the other man, happy to have made him laugh, “Listen, put some mayo on your next burger and thank me later.” Tine challenged.  Sarawat smiled at him.

“I know a really good burger place.” Sarawat offered, “Want to go get one?” They stopped swaying and Tine assessed the other man to see if he was being serious.

“Oh? Like right now?” Tine asked in surprise.

Sarawat nodded, “Yea. It’ll still be open.” It seemed kind of random, but Tine was definitely interested in the idea.

Tine smirked, “I’ll only go with you if you promise to put mayo on your burger and eat it in front of me.” He tapped Sarawat against his chest with his finger while his other hand moved to rest on Sarawat’s shoulder. Sarawat gave him a crooked smile.

The other man leaned in to speak closely to Tine’s ear. “Deal.” He said before pulling back to look at Tine. They smiled at each other as the music changed into something a bit more upbeat. As if breaking out of a trance, Tine jumped back out of Sarawat’s embrace and nervously scratched the back of his neck. What the fuck was happening? He felt weird. Sarawat placed his hands on his own hips and surveyed Tine’s face, “I’ll bring my car around. Then I’ll grab you. Okay?” Tine nodded, “Wait for me.” Sarawat instructed before he hurried off of the dance floor leaving Tine behind. There was a feeling of excitement there in the middle of his chest that Tine attributed to the anticipation about the hamburgers. He was about to go and tell his brother where he was going when he was grabbed by a young woman he hadn’t seen before. Tine’s eyes raked over her and noticed that she was very attractive.

“Hey, you’re Tine right?” She yelled over the beat of the music. Tine beamed widely at her.

“Yea, I am.” He answered. She smiled and pointed to someone to the side of them. Tine looked over and saw that Phuak and the girl he was dancing with were smiling in his direction.

“That girl over there is my good friend and your friend told me I had to come and meet you.” She tucked her hair behind her ear and moved her body to the beat of the song, “I’m Yihwa!”

“Cool!” Tine nodded and leaned in to her, “Want to dance?” He asked her. Finally his luck was changing.

“Not really!” She laughed, “I’m kind of drunk.” Tine frowned, or maybe his luck wasn’t changing at all. She put her hands on his shoulders and went on her tippy toes to whisper by his head, “You’re cute Tine.” Tine’s eyebrows rose up.

“Thanks, you’re really cute too.” He complimented.

“You think so?” She questioned. Tine nodded his head eagerly, “You want to, I don’t know, make out or something?” She asked. Tine’s cheeks flushed.

“Oh, um. I don’t think that’s a good idea.” He frowned, “You said you’re drunk.”

The girl giggled and wrapped her arms around his neck, pressing her body into him, “I’m not that drunk I promise, I remembered your name didn’t I?” She kissed his cheek and pulled back, “Tine.”

“Tine.” A loud strong voice boomed out from the right of Tine. He whipped his head in the direction where his name had come from and his eyes settled on Sarawat who was scowling at the girl hanging around Tine’s neck.

“Oh, hey. Um,” Tine glanced at the girl and then back at Sarawat, “Could we do the whole burger thing another time?” Tine asked. He and Sarawat weren’t close so he figured that cancelling their impromptu burger run wouldn’t be a big deal.  Yihwa stared at Sarawat as well, her mouth fully open.

“Oh wow, you’re very handsome.” She purred as she eyed Sarawat. Tine watched as her eyes travelled over the other man. Oh great! Just what he needed, competition. Sarawat’s attention moved on to Tine. Tine watched as the other man cocked his head to the side and folded his arms across his chest as if he were annoyed. Clearly seeing that Sarawat wasn’t getting the hint, Tine mouthed the words ‘go away’ to the other man hoping that he’d understand the severity of the situation. “I’m Yihwa.” The girl’s arms around Tine’s neck began to loosen as her attention fixated on Sarawat. Sarawat pressed his lips firmly together before he rolled his eyes, shook his head, hunched his shoulders, and stalked away. “Ugh so rude.” Yihwa exclaimed as her hold on Tine began to tighten again. Tine smiled down into her pretty face.

“I know right? He’s a bit of a dickhead.” He laughed as the music changed to another fast song.

 

“Shit.” Tine finally exhaled after a long moment of being silent. He looked at his brother and then at Man. “Was he hitting on me?”

Man frowned, “Yea, he was trying to. It didn’t quite go as planned though.” Tine groaned and leaned back against the couch. He felt horrible. He had completely blown Sarawat off and for what? A girl who danced herself into such a tizzy that Tine ended up holding her hair back while she threw up in the women’s bathroom before her friends took her home. “I never saw Sarawat cry before that.” Man admitted. Tine stared at his brother in law.

“What?” Tine asked.

“What?” Man asked him back.

Tine frowned, “He cried?”

Man’s eyes widened, “Oh shit, pretend I didn’t say that.” He glanced at Type for help and Type put his hands up to say ‘don’t ask me.’ Tine pointed at Man.

“Tell me everything right now. You guys want me to fix things with Sarawat, so then tell me what happened.” Tine demanded. Man nervously rubbed his hands over his thighs.

“Yea, he called me the next day, completely wasted and blubbering. Type let me go see him and Sarawat just-,” Man paused, “He was feeling really stupid for getting his hopes up about you.” Tine’s heart squeezed. Damn it. Why didn’t he realise what Sarawat was trying to do? “So I asked him what he wanted to do next and he said he was done. He wanted to get over you.” Man shrugged, “And I guess he did just that with that Oak guy. Or he at least tried to. Don’t really know.”

Type put his hand on Tine’s arm, “Again. Do not beat yourself up. How they hell were you supposed to even know that Sarawat was hitting on you?” How could he not feel bad? He had made the other man cry. Sarawat never cried over anything. Ugh, why hadn’t Sarawat told him what happened?  “Anyway, that was the past. And we know he lied, but I have to admit that Sarawat was really good for you.” Type divulged. Tine stared at his brother, his nose scrunched in confusion. “Seriously, you two looked happy together. I mean I guess it was false on your part, but-“

“It wasn’t false.” Tine interrupted, “I was really happy with him.” His lip quivered and he teared up, “Fuck, I’m so tired of crying all the time!” He choked out as his brother rubbed his shoulder. Tine turned his face towards Type, “I love him.” He said softly and Type beamed at him.

“You idiot.” His brother teased, “This is all good stuff! You love him and he clearly loves you.”

Man nodded and came over to sit beside Tine, squeezing him against Type who scowled but scooted over to make more room, “You should call him.” Man suggested.

“Should I? I don’t know.” Tine wiped his eyes. He was scared. This had all been too much processing and reflection for one night. He didn’t think this was a conversation for the phone. As if hearing his concerns, Type shook his head no.

“No, you should speak to him in person.” Type contradicted Man.

Man rolled his eyes, “What’s the difference?” He countered. Type frowned at his husband.

“The difference is that Tine should tell him how he feels face to face.”

Man scoffed, “I always told you that I loved you over the phone.”

“Yea, and it was creepy as hell hearing that from my fourteen year old stalker.” Type argued. Tine pushed himself off of the couch as the other two bickered.

“Stalker?! I think you meant to say love of your life.” Man challenged.

“Nope, I said what I meant. Stalker.” Type responded. Man’s eyes widened and he pounced on his husband who immediately began to squeal with laughter. “Stop it Man.” Type struggled to say through his fits of laughter.

“Oh I’ll show you stalker.” Man tickled his husband’s sides and straddled him. Tine rubbed his eyes and shook his head.

“On that note, I’m going to head out.” He interrupted their playing. Type playfully smacked Man on top of the head.

“Ow!” The man clutched at his hair.

“See what you did?!” Type pointed to Tine. “Now he wants to go.” He looked at Tine, “What about supper?”

Tine shook his head. “It’s okay, I’m not really hungry anymore and I have a lot to think about.”

Type pushed Man off of him and got up, “Okay well let me drive you home or Man can.”

“No honestly, I just want to put my music on and zone out. I’ll call a cab.” He walked over to his brother and hugged him, “Thanks for the talk.” He moved over to Man and bent over to hug him, “You too. Thanks Man,” He pulled back.

Man nodded, “Even though Wat’s my best friend, I’m always here for you, no matter what.” Man smiled, “We’re family.” Tine grinned back at the other man and tilted his head down. He was wrong for avoiding Man. He saw that now.

“You’re right. Sorry for avoiding you.” Tine sighed.

“I mean, I don’t blame you for wanting to avoid him. But at least make the reason make sense.” Type folded his arms across his chest and smirked. Man stood up and wrapped his arms around his husband’s upper body before he pressed a kiss to the side of Type’s head. Type smiled at the attention. “See, so annoying.” Tine smiled at them before he moved towards the door.

“Love you guys.” He said as he slipped on his shoes. Type walked over to him and hugged him again.

“Love you too doofus. Now go fix things.” He said before pulling away from Tine. Tine nodded and headed out of the apartment. His mind raced as he tried to figure out what he was going to do next. He was supposed to see Sarawat at the lawyer’s office in a few days. Tine decided to wait until then to pull him aside and speak to him. He didn’t know what was going to happen, but he hoped they could figure it out together.


Tine nervously paced back and forth as people passed by him and glanced in his direction with concerned expressions on their faces. He knew that he probably looked crazy as he continuously stared at the elevator and occasionally glanced at the door to the stairwell, but he really didn’t care. Where was he? He pulled out his phone and looked at the time. Twenty minutes late, what the fuck? Had he gotten hurt? Or forgot what day it was? He dialled the number he had committed to heart and groaned as Sarawat’s voicemail sounded in his ears. Fuck! He shoved the phone back into his pocket and continued to pace in front of the divorce lawyer’s office. His eyes were sore and his body was exhausted from a lack of sleep. Getting through the work day had been a definite chore as he continuously stared at the time on his computer and counted down the hours until he was going to be face to face with Sarawat again. He had prepared a long speech in his head about what he wanted to say and how he was going to suggest trying to work this out. On the other hand he had also planned to say that he didn’t think that this was going to work because there was just too much pressure on him to be someone good enough for Sarawat and he wasn’t sure if he was or if he could handle not trusting him anymore.

There were just too many conflicting feelings in Tine’s mind and he had waited to unload it all on the other man at the lawyer’s office, but he wasn’t there. He wasn’t fucking there and Tine was losing it. He was losing all semblance of his sanity as he eventually stopped pacing and just stared in the direction of the elevator doors.

He walked over and pressed the button and waited for a moment before it opened up. Okay, so the elevators were working, so that couldn’t be it. Damn. Could he have gotten lost? The address had been right on the paperwork and Sarawat was normally really good with that kind of information. He sighed and began to pace again. The squeaking sounds of his teeth grinding against each other irritated his ears, but he couldn’t stop doing it. He was stressed and he was exhausted and he wanted to know where the hell the other man was and how worried he should be. Tine scratched at his scalp and shook his head, his satchel swinging at his side. Should he try calling him again? Should he go to the condo? No that’d be excessive wouldn’t it? What if he was there simply trying to mind his own business? Shit, what if he was there with Oak? Tine scowled and turned on his heel to storm into the office. The office administrator looked up at him with a small smile.

“Mr. Teepakorn, I’m really sorry, but you only have ten minutes of your appointment left with Mr. Vihokratana.” She informed him. Tine frowned and looked over his shoulder again at the door. Where could he be? “You can reschedule if you’d like, but he won’t be available for three weeks if you’re willing to wait that long.” She suggested.

Tine rubbed the side of his neck, “I can’t go in there by myself right? I need my husband, I mean, my ex husband here.” The office admin shook her head in disagreement.

“You certainly can, Mr. Guntithanon couriered his paperwork over on Monday of last week, so you have nothing to worry about. He being here would be more a formality than anything.” Tine’s heart stopped. What? What did she say?

“Excuse me? Sorry, what did-wait what?” He cocked his head to the side as he looked at her.

She nodded, “Yes, he sent over his signed paperwork last week. So he does not need to be here for the appointment today. Technically you could have done the same thing if you wanted to. Most people show up for mediation purposes or to have the lawyer as their witness as they sign.” She explained.

Tine tried his best to breathe. He swallowed and let his head fall back so that he could get more air into his lungs. So that was it then? Sarawat had signed the papers and he didn’t intend to show up. Oh god, why did he feel like his body was just hit by a truck. “So, yes to the rescheduling? You have five minutes left of your appointment now.” She said softly. Tine looked at her and shook his head.

“No, I want to see him now.” He could feel his body shaking as he followed the woman into the lawyer’s office. She knocked on the door and opened it.

“Sir, Mr. Teepakorn.” She introduced him to the lawyer before she scurried away. Tine entered the room and shook the hand of the man who stood up.

“Ah Mr. Teepakorn, it’s nice to meet you in the flesh. I don’t have many high profile celebrity clients come through here and even though the circumstances are unfortunate, it’s still nice to see you.” The larger man with a curled moustache smiled at him and gestured for Tine to take a seat. Celebrity? Tine definitely didn’t fit that category. He closed the door behind him, sat down, and watched as the other man opened a few files on his desk.

“Thank you for meeting with me, I’m sorry that I wasted so much of your time.” He apologised and bowed his head. The other man waved his hand at him.

“Not a problem at all. No need for apologies, I know that this is usually a very delicate matter and everyone needs a little bit of extra time.” Well apparently Sarawat didn’t need that much time at all. He had couriered his paperwork over a few days after they had spoken in the car. Tine didn’t know why he was so upset about this. Sarawat had done exactly what he had asked him to do. “So I see here that Mr. Guntithanon signed all of his paperwork and used a Mr. Boss Arpornsutinan as his witness.” The lawyer looked through the documents and then slid some over to Tine and handed him a pen, “Here you are, sign under his signatures here and here, and on these other pages too with the x beside them. I will sign as your witness once you’re all good and ready. Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of time though so I’ll have to get to them later.” He explained as Tine reached out for the pen and positioned it between his shaky fingers while he stared at Sarawat’s signature. His stomach bubbled up and he felt extremely nauseous. This was it. It was happening. His hand shook as he pressed the tip of the pen against the paper and signed his name in all of the appropriate places. He hadn’t even realised he was crying until tears splashed on to the papers. Tine looked up at the lawyer who was watching him.

“I’m so sorry. I think I ruined them.” He choked out. The lawyer frowned and handed Tine a tissue box.

“No no, a few tears won’t damage them, it’s fine.” Tine took a few of the tissues and wiped his eyes before he finished signing his name. There, it was all done now. He put the pen down and glanced at the other man. “Alright, I’ll get these filed and put them into the system in a few days. You should receive a divorce certificate in the mail by next week proving the dissolution of your marriage to Mr. Guntithanon. Do you have any questions?” The divorce lawyer asked. Tine shook his head and felt the warm wetness trickle down his cheek.

“No. Thank you.” He stood up and the lawyer stood up as well to shake his hand.

“Change is always hard Mr. Teepakorn, but once you get used to it you’ll be fine.” The man clasped his free hand on top of Tine’s and gently squeezed them. Tine nodded and let his arm drop to his side before he turned to exit the office. He passed by the office administrator and bowed towards her.

“Goodbye and best of luck.” She said. Her tone was kind but had an edge of pity. Tine wiped his overflowing eyes and hurried out of the office. It was over with. By the end of the week he was going to be a divorced man. He’d never see Sarawat again. Their families would never be the same. His ex husband’s huge fan base would be relieved and Sarawat would be able to fall into the arms of Oa-. In his hurry Tine had managed to walk smack dab into someone else. He almost fell to the ground but he was caught by a pair of strong hands that grabbed at his shoulders.

“I am so sorry!” Tine quickly apologised before his tear filled eyes adjusted and realised who it was holding him. Shit! Tine struggled out of the other man’s grasp and stumbled backwards. Tine felt like he must have been a murderer or some type of horrible person in his past life to deserve this kind of karma. The man in front of him frowned and then glanced at the office that Tine had come out of. His eyes settled back on to Tine.

“Hey, I know we haven’t actually met. But I’m Oak.” The other man’s voice was surprisingly very deep.

Tine wiped his eyes in embarrassment as his sadness started to morph into anger, “I know who you are.” He all but growled. “Why are you here?” He demanded. Had the other man come there to gloat about his victory to take Sarawat away from him? Did Sarawat tell him where he was going to be and Oak wanted to see the pitiful weak Tine for himself? Oak looked slightly taken aback.

“My dad works on this floor.” Oak explained, “He’s a divorce lawyer.” Tine’s eyes widened and he turned to look at the door he had come out from. Oh god no, please don’t let this be his father. He turned to look back at Oak who was staring at him. “Not this guy,” He pointed to the door behind Tine, “But I’ve heard he’s pretty good.” Tine narrowed his eyes into dangerous slits. Why was this idiot talking to him? Oak stuffed his hands into his pockets, “It’s none of my business, but are you and Sarawat getting a divorce?” He asked. 

Tine pursed his lips, “You’re right. That’s none of your business.” Maybe Oak had technically done nothing wrong, but he still had slept with Sarawat when he thought that he and Tine were married. What kind of lowlife did something like that?  Afraid he was going to say something out of character, he quickly pushed past the other man, but felt a strong hand grab his shoulder pulling him back. Tine pulled the hand off of him and turned around. “Don’t touch me!” He yelled out causing a few people to look in their direction. Oak put his hands up.

“Okay, I’m sorry. But you’re making a huge mistake.” Oak slowly put his hands down and frowned at Tine.

“What the hell do you know?!” Tine spat out in a low menacing tone.

“I know that you weren’t with Sarawat a year before you got married and I also know that he is so fucking head over heels in love with you.”

Tine reeled back as if he had been slapped as what the other man said processed in his mind. “Excuse me?” He glanced around and grabbed Oak’s arm, pulling him to a corner of the hallway where there was a large window. He dropped his hand and stared at the other in shock, “What did Sarawat tell you?”

Oak shook his head, “Sarawat told me nothing. You should know that, he barely talks.”

Tine knitted his brows, “Sarawat talks all the time.” He said slowly.

“Maybe to you, but we-“ Oak paused and cleared his throat, Tine could see that he was trying to be careful with what he said, “We didn’t talk a lot about anything other than work. Most times that we were together we didn’t talk that much at all.” Oak admitted and Tine was sure he was going to hurl all over the other man’s shoes. He really didn’t need to picture Oak and Sarawat sleeping together anymore than he already had. “I tried to get him to talk to me, you know after we did stuff, but he’d just say he was tired and leave. At a certain point I just stopped asking him anything and enjoyed what we had.” A sad look crossed Oak’s face. And things started to finally click into place for Tine.

“You liked him didn’t you?” Tine asked. Oak’s eyes slightly widened before he averted his gaze and nodded.

“I did. I mean I never told him because I knew that if I did, he’d end things right there.” He shook his head, “Sarawat’s a good person. If he knew that he was hurting me, he wouldn’t have continued and I didn’t want to lose him. So-“ He shrugged, “I sucked it up and pretended I was fine.”

Tine looked him over and scrunched up his face. Three years together and Sarawat had actually managed to maintain an emotional distance from the attractive man in front of him. “I don’t understand, you’re good looking and probably smart. Why wouldn’t Sarawat want to be with you?”

Oak stared at Tine, “I asked myself that question for a long time and I only got my answer six months ago when he told me he was engaged and couldn’t continue to see me anymore.” He raised a brow and looked at Tine, “I’m pretty sure that he couldn’t be with me because he was in love with you the whole fucking time. I didn’t even realise what I was up against until I saw him in pictures with you and then it hit me.” He gave a wry laugh, “I was chasing after a man’s heart that wasn’t even in his fucking chest.” He pointed slowly at Tine’s heart and stared at Tine’s chest, “It was in there, with yours. That’s how I know that you two were lying at that press conference.” His eyes travelled up and bore into Tine’s.

“We weren’t-“ Tine started to say and then stopped himself from lying any further. What was the point anymore?

Oak nodded and frowned, “There was no way in hell Sarawat would have touched me if he was with you a year before you got engaged.”

Tine scoffed, “Well apparently there was some way since you two managed to sleep together at the last conference.” He folded his arms across his chest. His mind trying to shut out the images of them together, “And what about those damn pictures of you two kissing and dancing huh what about those?!” Tine was sceptical, he felt like everyone around him were just damn liars.

Oak raised a brow, “We didn’t sleep together. Sarawat and I spoke in his room because he was apologising to me. And those pictures of us kissing were when we were both wasted as fuck, they didn’t mean anything.” He narrowed his eyes, “Sarawat was really distracted at the conference and when he left to go home early, he got into a lot of trouble.” Tine’s eyes widened. Sarawat had gotten in trouble for leaving? He knew that it wasn’t directly his fault, but Tine still felt responsible.

“Apologising to you for what?” Tine leaned his back against the wall near the window and adjusted the satchel strap pulling down on his shoulder.

Oak pressed his lips into a firm line, “He said that he was sorry but he couldn’t hang out with me anymore at lunch and stuff. He said people were getting the wrong impression and he didn’t want to hurt anyone.” He raised a brow, “I knew he was talking about you of course. I understood where he was coming from and I didn’t blame him, but I had just wanted to ask him something so we went upstairs after he spilled his drink.” He paused and averted his gaze, “I asked him what was so unlovable about me that after all those years sleeping together that he just couldn’t like me more than a friend.” He sighed, “And he said,” He looked up at Tine, “That there was nothing unlovable about me. It was just that his heart was already taken.” Tine stopped breathing and gripped the strap of his satchel tightly until his knuckles turned white. Fuck. FUCK! He closed his eyes and let out a quick breath. Everything he had built up in his mind. All of his reasons for ending this marriage, had just been snatched right out from him. Tine felt like he was falling. “The way Sarawat has been and how he’s looked since you two got married is a Sarawat I wished I could have seen before. It was like a part of him had been hiding or missing. Whatever it was, he was so much more alive.” Oak continued on, “So if those stupid pictures are the reason why you want to divorce him then don’t. If it’s something else, then fine, but please don’t let it be because of me. I swear to you that Sarawat and I have nothing going on.” Tine finally opened his eyes and gulped.

“Okay.” Tine said quietly and then sighed. What was he going to do?

Oak nodded, “Yea. Anyway, thanks for listening to me. I know you really didn’t want to. But I appreciate it that you did. You don’t have to believe me or take my advice, but I just needed to know that I at least told you what really happened.” He shoved his hands into his pockets, “Well, my dad’s probably worried about where I am. I should go.” Tine’s eyes settled on the other and he tilted his head slightly forward. Oak watched him for a second and then turned to walk away. Tine really needed to talk to Sarawat. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and tried calling the other man, but once again his call went straight to voicemail. Damnnnn it! He screamed internally as he ran to the elevator and frantically pressed the down button. Now that he knew that Oak and Sarawat weren’t going to be rolling around naked in the condo, he decided to head there to see if he could find the other man.


He placed his hands on his thighs and tried to catch his breath as he stood in front of the condo door. Tine closed his eyes as he inhaled and exhaled as slowly as he could, trying to get oxygen into his body, but also trying to slow down his racing heart. Why didn’t he just wait for the elevator? Had it really been necessary to fly up the five flights of stairs? Probably not, but he didn’t want to wait another minute to see the other man anymore. They really needed to talk now that Tine had a clearer picture of everything that was going on. He was frustrated with himself for being so insecure, for believing that he was never worthy of Sarawat’s affection. Everything that Oak had said to him was still processing in his head. Tine could admit that he felt bad for the other man. He didn’t think he could handle being in love with someone for such a long time to have them never be ready to be with you. And once that thought had registered in his mind, he fully understood why Sarawat had been so afraid to say anything all of those years. Just like Oak, Sarawat must not have wanted to upset the balance of his relationship with Tine.

Even though they barely spoke or saw each other, Sarawat must have held on to the hope that he’d see Tine again someday. At that point, Tine realised that not only did he need to work on himself and his own problems, but that Sarawat needed to deal with his issues too. They both weren’t perfect, but if what Sarawat had said before about fixing things were true, then they could do it as long as they learned to address the difficulties that they had. Tine had to learn to see himself as valuable and Sarawat had to learn to let Tine in and trust him. His mind had been breaking everything down from the moment he had run out of the divorce lawyers building and now he was ready to share his thoughts with Sarawat, no matter how incoherent they may have been. He took in one last inhale before he straightened up to his full height and knocked on the door. A part of him wanted to just unlock it since he still had the keys, but he thought it would be more appropriate to wait for the other man to let him in. He waited for what felt like two minutes before he tried knocking again, harder this time. Still nothing. He pressed his ear to the door and listened to see if he could hear anyone moving around, but it was just eerily quiet. Tine frowned and fished the keys out of his satchel before unlocking the door. Concerned that something had happened to the other man. He pushed the door open and was met with silence. There were no lights on in any of the rooms, just the natural light of the sun setting streaming through the windows.

Tine gulped and closed the door behind him before turning on the lamp near the door. His eyes darted around the small space as he made his way to the kitchen. He frowned. It looked like Sarawat hadn’t been there for some time. There were no dishes in the sink and there was hardly any food in the fridge too. He moved on to the bedroom and eyed the neatly made bed. Now, that was weird. Sarawat rarely made the bed unless he planned to not be in it for a while. Shit, did he go somewhere? Tine stumbled into the en suite bathroom and saw that Sarawat’s toothbrush was gone. Fuck! His heart sank into his stomach. Where the hell could he have gone? He ran into the closet and found quite a few empty hangers. Oh no. Tine dug his fingers into his hair and growled out of frustration. Was this it? Had he missed him? He pulled out his phone and tried to call the other man again. Straight to fucking voicemail. Before he hung up this time, he listened to the other man’s voice and sighed. Maybe he had blocked Tine? Maybe he was just done with him and Tine was running after him when all the other man wanted to do was heal and move on just like Tine had wanted?

He dragged his feet all the way into the living room and plunked down on the all familiar couch. His hands smoothed over the cool material and he closed his eyes as he sunk back into the cushions. So many memories here together. From their practice touching that had driven Tine absolutely insane. He had been so nervous and so confused at why he had felt so excited just to tease the other man. Their numerous cuddles on the couch with Teddi by their side. Ugh, poor Teddi. Tine just hoped that she’d have an easier time forgetting the other man, more than he would. A small smile tugged on his lips as he thought about the picture he had taken of Boss sucking his thumb as he slept on the couch. At the thought of Boss, Tine’s eyes flew open. Shit! Boss had been with Sarawat when he signed the papers. He had to know where the other man was. Excitedly, Tine grabbed his phone and scrolled through his contact list before calling Boss’ number.

“Hello Tine’s butt. How are you?” Boss’ cheerful voice answered the phone after a few rings.

Tine furrowed his brow, “Tine’s butt? What are you talking about?” He inquired. He heard loud laughter on the other side of the phone.

“Oh shit. I thought you butt dialled me, my bad. You never call me so I thought it must have been an accident or something like that! Know what I mean?” Boss giggled, “Well, now that I know I’m not speaking to your butt, what do I owe the pleasure of this call?” Good god, this was going to be a challenging conversation with this silly man.

“I’m looking for Sarawat. Do you know where he is?” Tine asked quickly.

“Oh yea? He signed all the papers didn’t he? I was with him when he did it, but I mean I was crying a lot so maybe I missed a page? I was so sad that you two were divorcing that I just couldn’t help myself you know? Shit do you need me to sign something for you? I’m not wearing pants right now, but I could put them on and come over to sign the missing page. Do you have a pen? I lost all of mine, it’s insane how easy it is to lose a pe-“

“Boss!” Tine interrupted.  He held the phone against his ear using his shoulder as he absentmindedly began to spin his wedding ring quickly around his finger. His nerves were getting the best of him. “The papers were signed. You did well. I just need to see Sarawat.”

“Oh I see.” There was a long pause, “He could be at the condo.” Boss suggested.

Tine shook his head even though the other man couldn’t see. “I’m at the condo.” Tine tried to explain.

“Okay, is he there?” Boss asked.

Tine’s features pinched together in utter frustration. What the hell Boss!? “No, if we were both here, I wouldn’t have called you.”

Boss laughed, “Shit, yea that makes sense.” He giggled again, “Could you imagine if he was just like on the toilet and you didn’t know and you called me and then he came out of the bathroom all surprised? It happened to me once.”

“Boss, I need you to focus here. Did Sarawat say anything to you about going away or leaving?” Tine’s patience was wearing thin. He almost regretted calling the other man. Sighing into the speaker he continued to spin the wedding ring around his finger until it spun off and rolled across the floor. “Shit!” Tine jumped off of the couch and chased after it as it rolled under the TV stand. Of course this would happen to him.

“Yea he said he was going off the grid and not to worry about him, he’d let me know when he was back. He was really down after signing those papers.” Tine crawled over to the TV stand and froze at what he was hearing.

“He did? Off the grid?! Where the hell is off the grid?” He asked as he crouched lower to stretch his hand out under the stand, feeling around the dusty floor for the gold ring.

“Yep. I thought he was just going to stay home and kind of veg out, but you said he’s not there so I guess not.”

Tine put the phone down on the floor and pressed the speaker button, “Okay, well where would he go then?”

“Hmm, I don’t know. Knowing Sarawat, he could be anywhere, he could be in a bed somewhere, in Canada, the states, in a restaurant, at a zo-“ Boss continued to ramble on as Tine finally felt the ring under his fingertips. He pulled it out with a clump of dust and blew on it before checking to see if he had damaged it in any way. His brow furrowed as he noticed some script on the inside of the ring. What the hell? He squinted and peered closer at what was written there. Forever Reserved?  His finger traced over the engraving. He blinked slowly as he stared at it. Sarawat had engraved his ring and Tine hadn’t even noticed.

He sat back on his heels and sighed as the memory of Sarawat writing on his cast played through his mind. Reserved by Sarawat, he had yelled in anger at the other kid running out of his room. Thinking how stupid Sarawat was and how he was going to kill him when he saw that guitar playing fool again. But for whatever reason, even when his girlfriend at the time had told him to cross out the words, he hadn’t. He just didn’t want to. Was he in love with Sarawat then? Of course not. Did he feel some type of affection towards him? Maybe. He just thought it was funny to roll his eyes at it every night before he went to bed, like some reminder of his relationship with the other boy. Never in a million years, did he think Sarawat had actually meant what he had written. Not until this moment where the truth stared him right in the face from the confines of his ring. He hadn’t known it then, but a part of him had been reserved for Sarawat since that day. And Sarawat wanted him forever. Shit. He needed to find him and this time he wouldn’t stop looking. Where the hell would he be? Where would he go to feel better? Tine closed his eyes and relayed every conversation he could remember between them. Where would Sarawat feel safe? His eyes flew open.

“-could be in Hawaii, he always said he wanted to go there, he might be at a bar, or he could be in a-“ Boss continued on, not realising that Tine hadn’t been listening.

“In a tree.” Tine said out loud, finishing the other man’s thought.

Boss paused, “Maybe, but that seems a bit farfetched!” He laughed and then paused again, “Actually, no, that makes the most sense. Good idea Tine.”

“Thanks Boss! Got to go.” He hung up the phone and jumped up from the floor, running to the closet to grab the lantern that Sarawat had used when they had gone stargazing. He shoved his ring back on to his finger, grabbed the house keys, locked the door, and ran down the hallway of the building as fast his feet would take him.


Tine shivered from the evening air as he stepped out of the taxi cab that had dropped him off in front of his in-laws house. He closed the car door behind him and stared off into the direction of the Guntithanon’s backyard. The sound of the taxi disappeared down the road. He could feel the beat of his pulse racing in his wrists and he tried to lick his lips but found that he had no saliva in his mouth. To say that he was nervous would have been an understatement. He wasn’t sure if he was right in thinking that Sarawat would be there, but he hoped and prayed that he had been on to something. If the other man wasn’t there then Tine would just have to try to call him every day until one of his calls went through. He wasn’t going to give up on him again. There was a small fear buried deep inside his heart that Sarawat was going to be there, but that he wouldn’t want to see him. Tine would understand, but he knew he’d still be devastated. He glanced at the house and noticed that a few lights were on. A part of him wondered if he should knock on the door and see if Sarawat was inside, but he also didn’t want to see his in-laws at that very moment. He had no idea what they thought of their divorce situation and he wasn’t in the head space to find out.

No, he’d go to the backyard first and if Sarawat wasn’t there, then he’d ask Sarawat’s parents if they had seen him. Yea, that seemed like the best plan. His hand shook as he held the unlit lantern and walked into the darkened backyard. Dusk had fallen, so there were a few hints of light from the sky but not much. Tine walked slowly and carefully in the direction of the tree. He didn’t want to put the lantern on just as yet so he didn’t draw the attention of the homeowners inside. His feet crunched along the grass, pausing momentarily as his ears perked up and strained to listen. What was that? It had sounded like a sniff. He slowly continued to move forward when he heard the sound again. It definitely was the sound of something sniffling.

“Who’s there?” A familiar voice called out. Tine’s heart leapt out of his chest as he dropped the lantern on the grass in excitement. Shit. He bent to pick it up when a blinding light in front of him shone into his eyes. He put his hand out to block it. “Tine?” Sarawat’s cracking voice questioned as he pointed his phone’s light at Tine. Tine squinted his eyes at the silhouette of the other man before he picked up the lantern and turned it on. The light from the phone turned off and Tine anxiously watched as Sarawat walked towards him.  Tine quickly pulled off his satchel and placed it on the ground by his feet so that the heavy bag wasn’t weighing down on him. Tine’s eyes widened as they settled on the other man’s face once he was standing directly in front of him. Sarawat’s eyes were red, puffy, and filled with fresh tears. He’s crying? Was he crying because of him?

“Wat.” Tine’s voice was breathy as he reflexively reached out and brushed a tear off of Sarawat’s cheek with the pad of his thumb. Sarawat sighed under the touch, but then immediately ducked his head and wiped fervently at his eyes. “Don’t,” Tine quickly said before he reached out to pull the other man’s hand down from his face.

Sarawat looked at him and sniffed as more tears rolled down his cheeks, “So fucking embarrassing.” He said with a shaky breath. “Don’t look at me like this.” He instructed and tried turning his face away. Tine put the lantern down on the grass and sandwiched Sarawat’s face between his hands, forcing him to look at him. Sarawat’s eyebrows rose in surprise at the contact.

“Let me see you.” Tine said softly.

Sarawat frowned as he cried quietly, “What?” He asked in confusion.

Tine stepped closer to him, “I want to see you. Not the stoic version of yourself who keeps his feelings in check, I want to see the real you. Let me see you.” Tine explained. He had never in his life seen Sarawat cry or show this form of vulnerability before. It startled yet intrigued him. For once he wasn’t the one crying in front of the other one.

Sarawat averted his eyes and bit the side of his lip before nodding at him, “Okay.” He answered quietly. Tine wiped the tears away with his fingertips as he stared at the other. “Why are you here?” Sarawat asked as his eyes finally settled on Tine’s face. Oh yea, why was he here? Tine had completely lost his train of thought and forgot the urgency of the situation upon seeing Sarawat’s tear streaked face.

“I wanted to talk to you.” Tine dropped his hands to his side. “I guessed that you’d be here, but I was surprised that I was actually right.” He scratched the back of his neck. His fingers were still wet from Sarawat’s tears. “Why didn’t you come to the lawyer’s office today?” He asked. He needed to know if Sarawat was done with him. If he just wanted to move on.

“I couldn’t-,” Sarawat started saying and then choked back a sob, “do it. I knew that if I saw you, I’d tear up those stupid divorce papers.” He sniffed and wiped his eyes, “I didn’t want to make it worse.” He whispered out and shook his head. “I already lost you. I didn’t need you to hate me too.”

Tine swallowed, “You haven’t lost me yet.” He said hesitantly, suddenly feeling very shy. Sarawat stared at him, his eyes wide, and his lips slightly parted. “I saw Oak at the lawyer’s office. Did you know his dad was a divorce lawyer too?”

Sarawat nodded, but continued to stare at Tine, “What did you say?” his gaze became more intense.

Tine rubbed the side of his arm, “What do you mean, what did I say? I said I didn’t know Oak’s dad was a lawyer.”

“No, don’t do that.” Sarawat’s eyes bore into Tine’s as he called him out for deflecting, “What did you mean about not losing you?”

Tine nodded and then shrugged, “I just-I don’t want this to be over.” He finally spat out what he wanted to say, “I spoke to Oak and he told me some things. And I spoke to Man and Type and they told me some other things.” He cleared his throat and searched Sarawat’s eyes, “I believe you. I believe that you-“ He paused and chewed on the inside of his cheek.

“That I love you?” Sarawat asked. Tine closed his eyes and let out a quick exhale. Just hearing the other man say the words again, knowing that they were true now, made him so elated.

“Yea. I just wish I had known earlier.” He admitted, “And I am so sorry for what I did to you at Type’s wedding.” He fidgeted with his hands and looked down at his brightly lit feet, “I never knew that you were hitting on me, I mean I never thought in a million years that you had any interest in me like that.”

“Why is that so hard for you?” Sarawat questioned, “I tried to show you all the time.”

Tine briefly looked up at him and saw the pain on his face before he looked down again, “Because Wat, I have issues. I don’t do well with that kind of thing. I’m usually the person who’s chasing someone else and giving them my all. I’m not the one who gets chased. I’m not the one who gets told that they’re beautiful or handsome.” He pulled his bottom lip between his teeth and frowned, “I don’t know how to deal with that kind of attention and it’s easier for me to think I’m the butt of some kind of joke or that I’m being teased. It makes me less uncomfortable.” There was a long silence and Tine felt absolutely naked in front of the other man.

“I’m sorry.” Sarawat said, “If I made you uncomfortable.”

Tine shook his head, “No, I’m the one who should be sorry.” He shuffled his feet, “I know I’m not easy to love.” He mumbled.

“What?” Sarawat questioned, “Tine,” He paused and Tine looked up to see the confused expression on Sarawat’s face, “You are the easiest person to love.”

Tine scoffed, “Yea, I bet. I was so easy to love that you couldn’t even tell me that you loved me and then when you did try to do something I pretty much told you to fuck off.” He pressed his lips into a thin line. He was right, maybe Sarawat did deserve someone better than him.

“I didn’t tell you because of my own shit.” Sarawat corrected him, “It had nothing to do with you being difficult. Get that out of your head.” Sarawat narrowed his eyes, “A person who doesn’t let anyone in is hard to love.” He tapped at his own chest.

“People love you. Look at all of those fan pages and groups,” Tine encouraged.

Sarawat laughed sarcastically, “Yea, the people who don’t know me, love me.” He sighed, “But the person who does know me, couldn’t do it.” He looked at Tine and then turned to walk away towards the tree.

“I do-“ Tine started and Sarawat paused mid step, “I do love you.” He finished as his heart thudded in his chest. Scared at what he had finally said. Sarawat turned his head and slightly angled his body towards Tine.

“You love me?” He asked slowly, his brow furrowed in concentration.

Tine bit his lip and nodded, “Yea.”

Sarawat scrunched up his nose, “Like a friend?” He asked.

Tine shook his head no. “Like, I’m in love with you.” He clarified. Sarawat turned his body around and faced Tine now that they were a considerable distance from each other.

“You sure?” Sarawat asked and his voice slightly shook. Tine gave him a small smile as his cheeks grew hot.

“Yes, I’m sure I’m in love with you Sarawat. I’ve been in love with you for a while.” He admitted and observed the slight grin on Sarawat’s face.

“Really?” Sarawat moved closer towards him, but still kept a distance. “Why? How?”

Tine scoffed, “How could I not? You fucking married me to help my dad. You treated me like I meant the world to you. You adored my dog!” He shook his head, “I saw you for who you were and I just couldn’t stop myself from falling in love with you even though I tried really hard not to.”

“Say it again.” Sarawat said while averting his gaze.

Tine cocked his head to the side, “Say what?”

Sarawat cleared his throat and looked up, “Say it again. Please.” The other man begged. Tine smiled at him and nodded as he understood.

“I love you Sarawat,” Tine let out a long breath as he saw Sarawat smile widely at him. As quickly as Sarawat had moved away, he was right back in front of Tine, pressing his lips against the other man’s, and wrapping his arms around his waist. Tine sighed as he placed one hand on Sarawat’s shoulder and the other held on to the back of his head. He could feel warm wetness on his cheeks, but he couldn’t tell if he was the one crying or if it was Sarawat.

The other man slightly pulled back his head and whispered against Tine’s lips. “I love you.” He sniffed and confirmed that he was the one crying. Tine pressed their foreheads together as they stood there relishing the moment. As much as he wanted to stand there like that forever, he knew there were still things they needed to discuss.

Tine lifted his head and pressed a kiss to Sarawat’s wet cheek, “I want to fix this, but I’m still having trouble with the trust thing.” He admitted as his eyes raked over Sarawat’s face.

Sarawat wiped his eyes with the side of his hand and nodded, “That’s fair.”

Tine swallowed, “I still want to be married, if that’s cool with you.” He smoothed down Sarawat’s hair and let his hand rest on the back of the other man’s neck. “I can revoke the marriage dissolution tomorrow.”

“If you still want me, flaws and all, then yea. Let’s stay married.” Sarawat tilted his head forward in agreement to staying married. Tine gave a shy smile before he held up his married finger.

“Well I’m forever reserved right? I’m kind of stuck with you now that I know that.”

Sarawat glanced at the finger and then chuckled, “Finally saw it huh?” He asked. “Took you long enough.” Sarawat smirked. Tine looked at the ring too.

“Yea, I finally saw what was in front of me this whole time.” He glanced at Sarawat and grinned.

Sarawat raised a brow, “So cheesy.” He teased, but his tone was playful.

“Shut up Saraleo. I’m trying to be romantic.” Tine put his hand back on Sarawat’s neck, “Okay, so we’ll stay married and I kind of want us to go to counselling. I think we both have a lot of shit to dig through and I don’t think we can stay together if we don’t talk to someone.” His face was serious. As much as they loved each other, Tine couldn’t gloss over their other issues.

Sarawat blinked slowly, “Okay. I told you before Tine. Whatever you want, I’ll do it.”

Tine stared into Sarawat’s eyes, “I want you to let me in always. Even when you’re scared, I need you to keep tearing down those walls.” He informed him.  Sarawat twisted his mouth to the side.

“I’ll try.” Sarawat answered. “There are a lot of them. But I’ll work on it.”

Tine’s eyes twinkled as he felt Sarawat’s hold on him tighten, “Alright.” His mind whirred as he tried to remember everything that he had wanted to say. “What about the paparazzi?” He inquired.

Sarawat stuck out his bottom lip and thought, “What about them?”

Tine shook his head, “How are we going to deal with them? They’re going to be all over us when they find out we’re back together. They’ll never let up.” He didn’t know if he was emotionally prepared to handle their criticisms again. It was only recently that he had started feeling more secure about himself and figuring out who he was. He wanted to move forward with his progress, not backwards.

Sarawat moved his hands so that he was holding Tine’s waist, “Oh that. Fuck them.” He said seriously with a shrug of his shoulders. Tine snorted out a laugh at the harsh response.

“Fuck them?” He repeated, “That’s your suggestion?” Tine asked incredulously. Sarawat averted his eyes and nodded.

“Yea, they don’t matter. They’ll say whatever they want. But if we focus on each other and ignore the dumbasses, then we’ll be okay.” Sarawat explained, “Get what I mean?”

“It’s going to be hard.” Tine mumbled as he thought about how much of himself had been destroyed by the media’s input on their marriage.

“Probably. But we’re in this together. You have me to lean on. Plus, you know how I feel about you.” Sarawat leaned in and kissed his cheek. Tine gave him a shy smile, “Focus on us and the rest goes away.” Tine knew that it was probably going to take a bit more work than that. But Sarawat was right. If he could just focus on how the other man really felt about him and avoided the vitriol the media spewed then they could do this. Hopefully with the counselling he would be able to work through his own personal issues with his insecurities and once that happened, he’d be able to face anything with or without Sarawat by his side.

The sounds of the insects buzzing around distracted him out of his thoughts for a second and his eyes darted around the surrounding darkness, reminding him that they were still outside. He looked at Sarawat and frowned, “Why were you out here in the first place? Why didn’t you stay inside with your parents?”

“Didn’t want my parents to see,” Sarawat informed him and gestured at his still puffy eyes. He wasn’t crying anymore which made Tine happy. Sarawat gave him a sheepish grin, “I’ll admit that I tried to climb the tree and almost died.” Tine pictured the other man swinging from the branch and couldn’t help the bark of laughter that sounded from his lips. Sarawat gave him a crooked smile, “Don’t tell anyone.”

“Did you fall out of the tree? Is that the real reason why you were crying?” Tine teased as his face inched closer to Sarawat’s. “I might have to tell everyone actually.”

Sarawat rolled his eyes before muttering a word that Tine had missed hearing, “Nuisance.” He glanced at Tine’s lips and then looked back into Tine’s eyes. Tine’s breath hitched in his throat at the amount of love he found there. At the amount of need. He was dismayed that he had never noticed the way that Sarawat’s eyelashes curled or how brightly his eyes shone, even in the near darkness. The feeling of Sarawat’s hands gliding gently along his back sent a shiver down his spine. Memories of what those teasing hands were capable of came flooding to his mind. Tine’s pulse raced at the thought as Sarawat manoeuvred Tine slowly, guiding him step by step towards the firm trunk of the mango tree. His eyes glinting mischievously as they moved deeper into the darkness and away from the light of the lantern.

“You’re going to make us fall.” A nervous giggle broke from Tine’s lips as Sarawat’s features became masked by shadows. The primal glint barely visible through the darkness. Tine could still feel it though. Feel the heat of the other man’s gaze upon him.

“I won’t let you fall. I promise.” breathed Sarawat, making the hairs on Tine’s arms stand on end. The deep wanting in Sarawat’s voice sent heat coursing through Tine’s entire body. He hadn’t realised how much he had missed Sarawat’s touch, how every fiber of his body seemed to strain towards the other man with insatiable need. He had been so focused on his emotions that he hadn’t realized how much his body had ached for him. But having Sarawat’s arms wrapped tightly around his waist felt so intoxicatingly right. Sarawat’s back connected firmly with the trunk of the mango tree, halting their backward dance, the contact jolting Tine forward, pressing their bodies flush together. Tine’s body stiffened as thoughts of their previous sexual encounters overtook his mind. “See.”  Whispered Sarawat against Tine’s parted lips. “I’ll never let you fall.”

 Tine gasped as the other man nipped gently at his bottom lip. Desire tore through him as Sarawat began to slowly and meticulously work his skilled tongue in lazy circles, deepening the kiss, until Tine had all but lost his senses. Tine pressed his hand firmly against the trunk of the tree behind Sarawat’s head to stabilize himself as the heat continued to rise between them. With his free hand, Tine began exploring Sarawat’s lithe body, running his hand along the man’s taut torso, up and down, his greedy fingers raced, finally gripping into his ample bicep. Tine’s head fell back with a groan as Sarawat released him from the all consuming kiss. And again when Sarawat nuzzled the soft flesh of his neck before pressing a trail of kisses to Tine’s throat with his soft, full lips.  “I missed you.” His voice was barely audible as he spoke into Tine’s skin, but those powerful words immediately sent a glorious fluttering to the pit of his stomach and lower. His body hardened in response. Sarawat’s hand clawed down the length of Tine’s back, his fingers sinking into the taut flesh of Tine’s ass as his hips bucked wantonly under Sarawat’s grip. Oh god, every touch was driving him insane. As his head continued to spin from the overwhelming feelings of need and desire he let his head fall back, his neck cradled by Sarawat as he continued to knead his hands along Tine’s back. Looking at the stars glinting in the night sky and the leaves blowing lazily in the breeze he felt completely at peace. This was it Tine thought lazily as the fog in his mind began to clear, this was pure happiness. A light snapped on in the nearby house rousing him from his thoughts. He chuckled slightly as he became painfully aware that they were in fact, in the backyard of his in-laws making out like teenagers. He wasn’t sure if seeing their son groping his husband out in the yard was exactly how they wanted to break the news that they were staying together. 

“Wat.” Tine choked out as Sarawat’s lower body ground delightfully against his. Tine hissed and let out a strangled moan at the rocking motion. The other man didn’t answer as he sucked on the skin on the side of Tine’s neck. “Wat.” Tine tried again as his own fingers unconsciously laced through Sarawat’s soft, silky hair, pulling gently at the tresses. Fuck what was he going to say again?

“Mmm?” Sarawat murmured as he languidly teased a line of kisses along Tine’s neck. Tine shivered with delight as Sarawat worked his way up to Tine’s eager lips. His tongue sliding into place as Tine’s lips parted effortlessly. The kiss grew deeper and once again the wave of pleasure threatened to drown all reason from Tine’s mind. The scent of sweet mangoes surrounded them, mixing seamlessly with the spellbinding taste of Sarawat’s coaxing lips. His low moans egging Tine on as he sank further into the kiss, concerns forgotten. A dog barked in the distance, the sound tearing through the night’s stillness like a shot. Tine pulled back slightly, placing his hands on Sarawat’s shoulders as he shook his head to clear his thoughts. His lips felt heavy as he and Sarawat stood looking at one another in the near darkness, their breathing coming heavy in the peaceful night. “What?” Sarawat asked, his voice thick with desire.

Tine glanced around, “Maybe we should take this inside? You know, away from mosquitoes, and somewhere more discreet so your parents won’t catch us with your hand down my pants.”

Sarawat paused for a second and then pressed a chaste kiss to the corner of Tine’s mouth, “Good point. Since most of my plans didn’t include you wearing pants at all.” He chuckled, his breath tickling the side of Tine’s face. “Let’s pick up Teddi. Then go home.”

Tine smiled, ‘You missed her huh?”

“Yep.” Sarawat leaned in and nuzzled his cheek.

Tine laughed. “Alright, let’s go get Teddi and then we can continue with those plans later.” He pulled out of their embrace and reached out to lace their fingers together. Sarawat squeezed their linked hands as they turned to walk to the house. Tine bent down and picked up the lantern and his satchel from the grass before he raised it up to get a good look at Sarawat. His husband squinted his eyes, but smiled over at him. “You should probably tell your parents you’re leaving.”

Sarawat glanced at the house and nodded before he brought their joined hands toward his mouth and kissed the back of Tine’s hand. “Okay. Wait for me.” He instructed before letting Tine’s hand go.

Tine grinned, “Always.” He agreed. Sarawat turned to walk towards the house. Tine took in a deep breath, “I love you!” He called out to the man’s retreating back. Tine’s heart swelled in his chest as he looked at the man who was going to be his forever. He knew that it wouldn’t be easy and that they had a lot of things to work through, but he was confident that with some patience, communication, and a lot of love that they’d be able to get through this.

Sarawat turned around and beamed at Tine, his eyes softened as he gazed at the other man.  “I love you too.” 

 

Chapter Text

Epilogue: Two Feet

 

Aside from the hushed whispers of his husband and their eldest son, the house was relatively quiet. Perhaps too quiet. Since they had adopted the kids, it was almost never this calm. Maybe it was just the contrast to his own anxiety as he counted down the minutes until the newest member of the family entered the world. A baby, their baby. Sarawat stretched out his long legs against the cold wooden floor in their living room, momentarily disrupting Teddi’s nap on his lap. She slightly opened her eyes to look at him and then closed them again to go back to sleep before he smoothed down the curly fur on her head. His feet itched to go outside and play soccer to relieve some of the nerves that he felt deep in the pit of his stomach, but he knew that they needed to stay put until they got the call to go to the hospital. Letting out a huff of air through his nostrils, he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, and tapped the side button on his phone to look at the time. It had been a few hours since they had last received any updates and he just hoped that Air and the baby were doing okay. He knew that if there had been any complications with the delivery, Air’s husband Prem would have reached out to them so that they could immediately get down there.

Over the last nine months Tine and Sarawat had bonded a lot with Air’s little family as they went to doctor appointments together and of course Tine saw Air every day at work. It had been a pleasant surprise when she had offered to be the gestational surrogate for their third child. Tine had been nervous that Sarawat would be uncomfortable with the idea of Air carrying for them because of the crossed wires that had occurred years ago, but Sarawat was elated that their baby was going to be carried by someone they trusted completely. Sarawat didn’t trust many, but he could definitely say that Air and Prem were very good people. He and Tine were lucky to have their baby developing around such a loving family.

After they had found an egg donor, they had decided to use Tine’s sperm. Though Sarawat was initially excited to see the resemblance as the child grew, he began to worry that the baby wouldn’t feel as connected to him, knowing Tine was the biological father. A part of him knew he was being irrational and that the baby probably wouldn’t care as they got older, but there was still a nagging feeling inside of him that told him that he wasn’t going to be enough. He wasn’t going to truly be “Dad”. He had tried to communicate his concerns to Tine, but despite the years of counselling, he still struggled to let out his innermost fears. Eventually he would get there, but it always took him a few tries. He glanced over at Tine who had their six year old, Dean, curled up into his side as they read a book together on the couch.  A small smile tugged on the corner of his lips as Tine read one page and then Dean would read the next, his little finger trailing under the words as he read them. Tine looked proudly over at their son as he managed not to stumble on a single word. Sarawat was extremely proud of Dean too. Their eldest was in grade one, but was reading at a grade three level. Sarawat anxiously looked at the time again and frowned, it had only been one minute since he had last looked. In an attempt to distract himself he decided to partake in his favourite past time of teasing his husband. He turned his head and blatantly stared at Tine. After a few moments, Tine looked up from the book and quickly glanced over at Sarawat. Got him. Sarawat squinted his brown eyes at Tine and cocked his head to the side. Tine frowned at him.

“What?” Tine questioned as his eyes raked over him, “What’s wrong?” His brow creased further in confusion. Sarawat scrunched up his nose and touched his own cheek.

“You have something on your face.” He said seriously.

Tine’s eyes widened, “Something on my face? What is it? Is it nutella? A piece of fruit?” He rubbed frantically over the smooth skin of his cheeks and forehead, “Oh god, is it a bug?!” He exclaimed. Their son Dean carried on with reading his page, unbothered by the normal theatrics of his parents. Sarawat bit hard on his bottom lip as he tried his best not to laugh at the man in front of him. Tine was so easy to bug, even after all the years they had been together. “Wat! Come help me get it off! Is it gone?”

Sarawat leaned forward from his spot on the floor as he pretended to take a closer look, “Move your hand.” He instructed. Tine immediately moved it away and looked at him with wide concerned eyes, “Wait, never mind-,” Sarawat tilted his head to the other side and continued to narrow his eyes, “that’s just your handsomeness.” The corner of his lips pulled up into a smirk as he watched the realisation of what had just happened dawn on Tine’s face.

Tine’s cheeks slowly grew pink as he rolled his eyes in feigned annoyance, “Something is very wrong with you. You know that?”

Sarawat nodded, “Yea, I know. I’m sick.” He paused for effect, “Lovesick.” He whispered out the last word. Tine burst out into laughter and shook his head as his laugh subsided into giggles. Nothing made Sarawat happier than to make Tine laugh like that, it would always be one of his favourite things. Dean furrowed his brow and looked up into Tine’s face.

“Papa, it’s your turn.” His little voice rang out.

Tine chuckled and nodded before he continued to read, “You’re right, sorry.” Dean stared back down at the book, a serious expression on his face. Tine and Sarawat discussed his personality a lot. For such a young boy, he was very serious for his age. He didn’t laugh a whole lot, but when you got him to, you felt like you were rewarded with the greatest of gifts. Sarawat and he had bonded a lot over soccer. They both loved to watch it and they both played it every chance that they could get. Despite him being so serious, the little boy was actually well rounded, very sociable, and he was also extremely protective over his younger adoptive brother Benz. People joked that if they didn’t know that Dean had been adopted by them when he was two, they would swear that he was Sarawat’s biological son based on personality alone. Benz was the complete opposite of his brother. At four years old he was a daredevil, always climbing things, or jumping from one place to the next. Tine and Sarawat were sure that when they went bald in their early thirties it’d be because of Benz. The thing about their youngest was that despite his reckless nature, he was actually very shy and introverted until he really got to know someone. As his thoughts swirled around the younger boy, Sarawat frowned as he realised why the quiet had been so concerning for him.

“Where’s Benz?” He stared at his husband who was in the middle of reading. Tine paused and looked up from the book.

“I put him down for a nap after lunch. About twenty minutes ago.” Tine explained.

Sarawat nodded and lifted Teddi off his lap before he stood up. “Alright, I’m going to go check on him.” He walked over to Tine and kissed him on the forehead before ruffling Dean’s hair.

“Thanks.” Tine said over his shoulder.

Sarawat hustled up the stairs of their house, two at a time, as he gripped the wooden banister under his palm. At the top landing, he casually looked over at the yellow nursery they had set up for the baby’s arrival. His stomach churned again. He was so nervous. Sarawat knew nothing about babies. Toddlers, yes, he understood them. When they got the boys, they were already potty trained, could talk, and Sarawat could play around with them. One of the earlier games they played and still played was where Sarawat told them they were going on a trip and then would toss them carefully on to the bed full of pillows before swishing the bed sheets up around them. They would giggle and laugh for a whole hour with that. But Sarawat couldn’t do that with a newborn. They were so fragile, with small limbs, weak necks, and large heads. He was terrified of accidentally dropping the baby, or not supporting the head right. There was just too much that could go wrong. Oh and the horror stories he had read about babies crying for hours on end and you could never know what was wrong because they couldn’t talk. How could he be a good parent if he couldn’t even figure out what their baby needed. He firmly closed his eyes and shook his head. Maybe Tine could just be the main parent for the first two years and then Sarawat could step in when he was able to toss the toddler into the bed with their brothers. He pressed his lips tightly together and went to peek into the boy’s room. His eyes widened as he beheld the two empty beds. “Tine!” He yelled out from the top of the stairs as he scrambled down them before hurrying into the living room. Tine and Dean looked at him with confused stares. “He’s not in the bed.”

Tine frowned, “Not again.” He sighed out as he closed the book.

Dean hopped up off of the couch and placed his small hand into Sarawat’s, “I think I know where he is dad.” He pulled Sarawat towards the sliding door to the backyard and waited for the older man to open it for him. “He told me he wanted to play outside, but then papa made him go nap.” The older boy explained as Sarawat unlocked it. Dean went running into the backyard and abruptly stopped before putting his hands on his hips, “You’re in big trouble mister.” He yelled out at the younger child. Sarawat stepped outside with Tine right behind him and stared at their youngest son who was twirling around on his toes as he did ballet and practiced his karate skills at the same time. Benz looked over at his brother and stuck out his tongue.

“Am not!” He threw at Dean. Dean looked back at his dad’s and Sarawat and Tine looked at each other in exasperation before their gazes settled on the four year old.

“Benz,” Tine started and folded his arms across his chest, “How did you get out here?” Benz stopped his ballet karate and smiled happily at his papa before he pointed to the tree in the backyard. Both Tine and Sarawat stared at it in horror.

“What?!” Sarawat’s voice rose. “Did you climb the tree?!”

“Yea!” Benz said excitedly, “I climbed it and then I dropped down to the grass!”

Sarawat watched as Tine pinched the bridge of his nose, “Let me get this straight. Benz, you climbed out of your window and shimmied down the tree?” He reiterated.

“Yup all by myself.” Benz beamed proudly at his parents, showing off his two missing front teeth. Sarawat had to admit that he was impressed, but it was mostly horror that was registering in his mind. They really needed to fix the window screen in the boy’s bedroom sooner than they thought they needed to. He walked over to the small boy and dropped to his knees.

“Listen to me,” Sarawat stared into the little boy’s face, “That was brave, but you could have really hurt yourself.”

Benz glanced away, “But I didn’t hurt myself dad. I did it. I climbed out and was real careful in the tree.” The little boy’s lower lip and chin began to tremble.

“I know. You’re really strong for climbing down those branches, but,” he paused, “it’s not safe and we don’t want you to ever do that again.” He could hear the crunch of the grass beside him as Tine walked over.

His husband bent over to look at their youngest, “If something ever happened to you we don’t know what we’d do with ourselves. So promise us that you will never do that again okay? Even if you become the strongest kid in the whole world, we don’t want you doing that.” He reached out and patted the little boy’s head. Benz looked at his papa and burst into tears before throwing himself against Tine’s body.

“I’m sorry.” He cried as Tine picked him up and the little boy cried snotty tears into Tine’s shoulder, before he wrapped his short arms around Tine’s neck. Dean walked over and placed his hand into Sarawat’s. “I’ll never do that again. I promiseee.” He wailed into the side of Tine’s face before burying his head into his papa’s neck once again.

“Told you you were in trouble.” Dean stated loudly and shook his head, “But it was pretty cool that you got into the tree! Like Spiderman!” Dean grinned as he watched his little brother hiccup as his tears subsided.

Benz rubbed his eyes with his little fist, “Yea?” He asked his older brother, seeking his approval. Dean gave him a quick nod. Benz’s face lit up and he smiled, “I’m like Spiderman. I’ll protect the whole family and the new baby!” He giggled and pressed his runny nose right into Tine’s cheek. Sarawat bit back the laugh as Tine grimaced at the snot on his cheek. He lifted one shoulder and rubbed the side of his face against it when Benz was distracted. Tine looked at Sarawat and grinned. They had really gotten lucky with their little family. Tine put Benz down on the ground and the two boys ran off chasing each other and squealing. Sarawat watched as his husband took his phone out of his pocket and checked it. A frown on his face. Sarawat could see that they hadn’t gotten any news yet about the baby.

“Hey!” Tine cupped his hands around his mouth, “Let’s play a game of soccer.” He yelled out to the boys and then looked over at Sarawat. “You ready?”

Sarawat laughed, “I’ve been ready.” He smiled over at his husband as the boys ran excitedly up to them. Dean had picked up the foam soccer ball by the tree and held it in his hands.

“Alright, we’re not wearing any shoes right now,” Tine pointed to their socked feet, “So, don’t kick the ball hard, we’re just playing for fun okay?” The boys nodded and Sarawat reached out to take the ball from Dean.

“Okay, so teams.” Sarawat stated, “Dean, can you pair us off?”

Dean nodded, “Me and papa, and you and Benz.” He pointed to Sarawat who walked over to stand beside the younger boy. “That way we have one good player on each time so it’s fair.” Dean finished off as he walked to stand beside Tine. Tine looked at the boy beside him.

“Am I the good player on this team?” He pointedly asked his son. Dean looked up at him and shook his head no. Tine pouted, “Wow, well there’s a hit to my ego.” He joked.

“You’re not bad papa!” Dean patted his papa’s arm fondly, “I’m just better.”

“Enough yappin!” Benz yelled out, “Let’s do this!” He flexed his small arms before Sarawat put the ball in the middle.

“Three, two, one, go!” Sarawat yelled out as they all attempted to get the ball. Dean took off with it in the opposite direction. Benz chased after him with full speed as their parents slowly jogged behind them. Dean kicked the ball over to Tine. Tine yelped in excitement and ran eagerly towards the goal. Sarawat chased after him and wrapped his arms around his waist, successfully dragging him down to the grass.

“Hey!” Tine yelled beneath his husband as he rolled over to stare up at the man who was now hovering over him. “Referee I need hel-!” Tine tried to yell out again before his words were swallowed up by Sarawat’s lips on his own. Sarawat pulled back to look at him, “Oh.” Tine sighed and smiled at his husband. Sarawat peppered kisses on Tine’s cheeks as the chorus of ‘ews’ rang out from their sons behind them.

“You looked a little stressed out.” Sarawat noted as he brushed the tip of his nose against his husbands. Tine leaned up and pressed a chaste kiss to Sarawat’s lips before letting his head rest on the grass.

“You noticed huh?”

Sarawat nodded, “The baby will be okay.” He hoped that he sounded a lot more confident than he actually felt. There were no indications that anything would be wrong, but sometimes with these things you just never knew.

Tine nodded, “You’re right.” Sarawat leaned down and kissed Tine’s forehead.

“Foul!” Dean yelled out beside them, startling the two men. “Yellow card for tackling and unnecessary kissing.” He declared as he picked up the ball.

“Alright, alright.” Sarawat pushed himself off of the ground and offered a hand to Tine to get up, “I’ll bench myself okay.” Tine stood up and dusted off his hands on the front of his shorts.

“Dad! Now we’re going to lose!” Benz whined in annoyance.

“Sorry bud. Couldn’t help myself.” Sarawat shrugged.

“You do this EVERY GAME!” Benz exclaimed, “I want to trade teammates.” He pouted before taking the ball from Dean and running off. “I want Batman to be my new teammate.” The little boy screamed as Dean chased after him for the ball.

The sound of something buzzing disrupted the conversation. Tine quickly pulled his phone out of his pocket and answered.

“Hello?” He nibbled on his bottom lip, “What?!” His eyes grew big as he stared at Sarawat. “We’re coming right now.” He hung up the phone and shoved it back into his pocket. “Air went into labour an hour ago! We have to go!” Tine yelled out clearly panicked. Oh shit. It was happening. The baby was coming. Sarawat swallowed hard as Tine ran after the boys. “Boys let’s go! The baby is coming!” He called to them. They immediately stopped running after each other and instead ran at Tine and Sarawat. The dads quickly grabbed them and hustled into the house. Tine sat the boys down on a small bench by the door and handed them their shoes before he shoved his own on. Sarawat grabbed the car keys and ran over to help Benz put on his shoes since he was the slower one of the two. “My feet feel weird!” Tine groaned out and the other three looked down at Tine’s feet. Dean burst into his rare body shaking laughter and Sarawat smirked.

“Nuisance, you’re wearing two different shoes. And they’re on the wrong feet.” He frowned as Tine blushed in embarrassment. He chucked both shoes off and grabbed the correct pair. “I should drive.” Sarawat stated as he stared into his husband’s nervous face. Tine gave him a sheepish smile and nodded.

“Okay,” Tine breathed out as he grabbed Dean’s hand, picked up their overnight baby bag, and opened the front door. Sarawat picked up Benz who was in the process of petting Teddi who had wandered over. He leaned down and grabbed the backpack stuffed with things to occupy the kids at the hospital.

“Bye Teddi!” The little boy waved to the dog as Sarawat adjusted his son against his shoulder. Teddi barked in response before Sarawat followed Tine out to their car.


They hurried as fast as they could down the hospital hallway, following the instructions that Air’s husband had given them. There was a nurse sitting at the nurse’s station on the floor of the maternity ward where they were instructed to go to. She told them to wait for a moment so that she could check on what was happening. Sarawat watched as she walked down the hall.

“I can’t believe it.” Tine murmured. Sarawat glanced over at him and saw that the other man was worrying his lip between his teeth. “I hope everyone’s okay.” He finished off.

“I’m hungry!” Benz whined as Tine adjusted him in his arms. He had picked him up once they had gotten into the hospital so that they could run faster. Sarawat grabbed the backpack he had slung over his shoulder and opened it. He pulled out a granola bar and juice box.

Benz squealed in excitement as the snacks were handed over, “Thanks Dad!”

“Dean?” Sarawat asked the older boy. Dean looked over at Sarawat and shook his head. Sarawat reached back into the bag and pulled out a comic book. Dean’s face lit up as he reached out for it.

“Thanks dad.” He said more calmly than the other boy. Sarawat smiled and patted the boy’s head. The nurse came back out and smiled warmly at them.

“You can head in there now. Please follow me.” She informed them. The smile that was on Sarawat’s face slipped off and was replaced with parted lips and worried eyes. What was he going to do? Should he hold the baby? “Oh and here.” The nurse handed them a small white envelope. Sarawat reached out for it in confusion.

“The bill?” He asked. The nurse laughed and shook her head.

“No, it’s the sex of your baby.” She giggled, “Your surrogate asked the doctor to write it out so it’d be a surprise for you.” They didn’t really care what the baby was going to be as long as it was healthy, but Sarawat secretly hoped it was a little girl.

“Oh, thank you.” Sarawat held the envelope between his hands and bowed towards the woman. He could see Tine do a modified version of it as well as he held Benz. Benz and Dean clasped their hands together as well as a sign of respect. Sarawat felt very proud of them.

The nurse shook her head, “No need to thank me. Now let’s go meet your baby!” She said excitedly as she turned to walk down the hall.

“Alright gang let’s go.” Tine chirped happily as they followed after the nurse to the private hospital room. Sarawat didn’t normally spend a lot unless he had to, but he made sure to get a comfortable single room for Air to deliver. It was the least he could do for everything that she had done for them. He swallowed hard as they entered the room and saw an exhausted looking Air holding a swaddled baby in her arms. Her husband brushed her hair out of her face for her. She looked up as they walked in.

“Hey!” She exclaimed happily, her eyes were bright and her cheeks were rosy. They walked to the other side of her bed.

“Hey yourself.” Tine beamed at her. “How are you feeling?”

Air scoffed, “I’m strong. Don’t worry about me. Go wash your hands and come take your baby.” She laughed. Tine nodded and put Benz down so that he could wash his hands at the sink.

“Hi aunty Air.” Benz said happily. “Is that my baby?” He pointed to the bundle in her arms.

Air giggled at the small boy. “Hiya Benzie!” She replied and nodded, “Yep this is your baby.”

“Can I hold him?” He asked, outstretching his little arms. Sarawat walked over to Prem and shook his hand. The other man clapped him on the back.

“Well we don’t know if the baby is a him or her yet,” The baby cooed in her arms and stretched out a small hand. From where he was standing now, he was able to see the baby’s face. Sarawat stood transfixed as his heart swelled with immediate love.

“It’s a little girl.” He stated before he brought his hand to his mouth and stared at her. His eyes grew hot as the feeling of joy overwhelmed him. She looked so much like Tine had as a baby in the pictures he had seen of him. Her chubby cheeks looked soft and her eyes were squeezed shut.

“Congrats man.” Air’s husband squeezed Sarawat’s shoulder.

“I think she’s a little girl too.” Air said gently as a tear slid down Sarawat’s face. Tine stepped back over and reached out for the baby. Air lifted her up towards him and he supported her neck before cradling her in his arms. “The pregnancy felt similar when I was having my daughter, so I wondered if the baby was a girl, but I wanted you two to find out on your own.”

“Why are you crying dad?” Dean asked Sarawat as he tugged on the side of his shirt, “You didn’t want a girl or something?”

Sarawat shook his head and wiped the warm liquid from his cheeks, “No, that’s not it. Your papa and I actually wanted two boys and a girl.” He glanced at the small child, “I’m just really happy.” He was. He was elated, but still so nervous. Tine walked over to Sarawat, his eyes never leaving the baby’s face as he made his way around the bed.

“Wow,” Tine said in awe as the baby fidgeted in his arms. Her mouth formed an ‘o’ in a sucking motion. “Hi there baby,” Tine brought her face close to his and kissed her cheek. “Oh god, her face is so soft. She smells so good.” He said excitedly as he looked around at the other adults. Sarawat leaned in to smell her. He didn’t know how to describe it, but to him she smelled like sweet milk and honey. Tine slightly leaned over so that the boys could see her. Benz tried to push the blanket back from her face, “Be gentle Benz.” Tine’s voice was quiet as the baby stuck her fingers into her mouth. Both Dean and Benz watched her carefully. Dean gave her a small smile but Benz looked disgruntled.

“Aw I wanted a boy!” Benz mumbled and frowned as he looked at the baby.

“There’s already too many boys in the house Benz!” Dean exclaimed, giving a slight roll of his eyes. He looked over at Sarawat as if asking for backup.

Sarawat raised a brow at the two boys, “Let’s see.” He ripped open the envelope he still had in his hands and handed it to Dean. “Show us your reading skills.” Dean took it excitedly and gave a nod of determination. Everyone watched him as he carefully pulled the paper out and unfolded it, before he seemingly read it in his head. He looked up and grinned.

“Sorry Spiderman, we have a little sister to watch over now.” He gave a small giggle and turned the paper around for everyone to see the writing. Benz groaned. Tine turned to Sarawat with a huge smile on his face. Sarawat leaned in and placed a quick kiss to the corner of Tine’s mouth. He knew it. The moment he saw her, he knew they had a little girl. He just thought it was funny how much she looked like Tine. A part of him wondered if she would be just as smart as her papa, but hopefully not as socially dumb.

“We officially have a little girl.” Tine looked over at Air, “Thank you so much.” Sarawat nodded. Air gave them a dismissive wave.

“I would say I’d do it anytime, but I think this was a onetime deal. My back was killing me for months.” She laughed and pointed at the baby, “Beware, she’s a night owl.”

Benz gasped, “She’s an owl!? Oh yay, let’s keep her.” He exclaimed in excitement, “I love owls.” Dean looked at his brother and shook his head in disbelief, but didn’t correct the other boy.

“Yea, thank you guys.” Sarawat looked at Air and then at Prem, “Thank you for supporting her through this.” The other man nodded.

“Of course. Just no backsies. The baby’s all yours now.” The husband laughed and took Air’s hand in his own. She looked up at him and he bent over to kiss her. “And this lady is now all mine.” Prem wiggled his eyebrows at her and Air rolled her eyes.

“Please ignore him. It’s been a long day.” She laughed and then looked over at the two men. “So which one of you is staying overnight with the baby and me?” The hospital had a policy that they needed to monitor the baby and the mother just to make sure that nothing went wrong before they took her home. Tine looked up from the baby’s face.

“I’ll stay.” He announced happily. Sarawat nodded. They had agreed to that months before, so it wasn’t a point of contention. And Sarawat was still nervous about holding the baby so he was more than happy to have a night at home with the boys.

“Awesome. So have we thought about any names?” Air asked as she adjusted her body in the bed. She winced and Sarawat felt bad for her. He knew that her body must have been exhausted. He and the boys would need to leave soon.

“For a girl we had Madee or May.” Sarawat explained as he looked over at the baby, “Which one do you like?” He whispered to the little girl. The baby continued to suck on her fingers, “Madee?” He called out to her and nothing happened, “May?” For a moment the baby didn’t do anything, but then her eyes slightly opened. Sarawat huffed out a laugh and looked at Tine. “May it is.” Tine touched her small hand.

“May.” Tine smiled and nodded at his husband, their eyes boring into each other as they communicated without saying anything. “May’s perfect.” Tine finally breathed out. Sarawat placed a kiss against the side of Tine’s head and playfully ruffled the onyx tresses.

“Can we take May home now papa?” Dean asked Tine.

“Not yet bud.” Sarawat answered for Tine who was moving to sit in a chair in the corner.

“Wat can you hold her for a second?” Tine asked him. Sarawat tensed up. Hold the baby? Him? The guy who dropped a whole burrito on the floor last month? No thanks. He bent over and picked up Benz, who yelped in surprise and then giggled.

“Dad!” The little boy laughed, “Do it again!”

“We should go home now. Benz didn’t nap and Dean needs,” He paused as he thought, “to practice soccer.” Sarawat knew that he wasn’t supposed to lie, but technically he wasn’t lying since Benz did need to have a nap without climbing into a tree this time. The soccer practice was a bit far-fetched, but Dean had a game coming up.

“Aw I don’t want to nap! I want to play with May!”

“Yay dad, can you practice with me?” The boys’ conversation overlapped as Tine looked at them and then at Sarawat.

Tine raised a brow and opened his mouth to say something, but then managed to hold May with his left arm as he settled into the chair. “No problem. Alright boys come here.” Dean walked slowly over to his papa as Benz scrambled out of Sarawat’s arms. “Here give your sister a kiss on the head.” He held the baby out for them to kiss. Dean gave her a peck on the ear and Benz gave her one on the cheek before May started to cry. Oh no. It’s starting. Sarawat frowned. “I think she’s hungry.” Tine smiled at her and reached out his free hand to pull Benz’s head in for a kiss to the forehead. Dean reluctantly let himself be pulled in too as the baby wailed in their ears.

“I’ll call the nurse to bring a bottle.” Air suggested as she picked up the phone on the table beside her.

“Thanks.” Tine smiled at her and then looked at his husband. Sarawat awkwardly stuck his hands into his jean pockets and shuffled over to Tine. “Call me when you get home okay?” Tine instructed him. Sarawat leaned in and placed a chaste kiss to Tine’s lips before slightly pulling away.

“Alright. Love you.” Sarawat said softly before turning his face to kiss May on the head as she cried. “We’ll pick you up tomorrow.”

“Love you too. And good, don’t forget me here.” Tine smiled and gently rocked the baby. “Be good for your dad!” He told the boys as they were about to walk out.

“We will Papa!” They said in unison as Benz danced his way out the door and Dean calmly followed after him. Sarawat gave one last final wave as he followed out after his sons. He felt bad for how he had reacted towards Tine and the baby. He had managed to get out of holding her that day, but he knew that it wouldn’t be possible to get away with for much longer.


When he went to pick up Tine and May from the hospital the next day, Sarawat tried to figure out the best excuses to not have to hold the baby. Looking at her from afar and touching her little feet and toes were enough for him until he was able to get up the confidence to hold her properly. He was slightly banking on Tine’s obliviousness to get him through the next couple of weeks of not picking her up. Sarawat put the car in park near the entrance of the hospital and hopped out. He could see Tine standing by the automatic doors. His husband’s attention was directed at the baby in his arms as he gently rocked her.

“Hey!” Sarawat grinned at Tine before he stepped on to the curb in front of his husband. Tine looked up at him and gave him a tired smile. He looked like he hadn’t slept a wink since Sarawat and the boys had left him the day before. Sarawat leaned in and pressed a quick kiss to Tine’s lips. Tine smiled shyly at him. Sarawat couldn’t believe that they had been married for almost six years and Tine still blushed when they kissed.

“Hey.” Tine yawned and smiled down at the baby. He rubbed his index finger slowly over her hand as she gurgled in her blanket. Her little fist opened up and she grabbed the finger. Tine beamed at Sarawat, “She’s so strong.” He giggled as he looked at his husband. Sarawat looked over at the baby and smiled. He couldn’t wait until she was older so he could teach her soccer and maybe she could join karate classes like her brothers or even ballet class like Benz. May burped before spitting up a bit, Tine laughed as he wiped her mouth with a cloth that was tucked into her blanket. “She also does this a lot too oh and she has a huge appetite.” Tine glanced at Sarawat with shocked eyes, “Like huge.”

Sarawat chuckled, “I mean, she is your kid.”

Tine frowned, “Shut up.” He rolled his eye and then smirked, “I played a whole bunch of Scrubb songs for her and she fell asleep.” He beamed proudly and then twisted his mouth in thought, “I’m not sure if I should be offended or not, but at least we know how we can put her to sleep when she’s fussy.” Tine gave him a sheepish smile, “Also side note, Air does not like Scrubb and she was really close to throwing a bedpan at me. So yea, that happened.” He shrugged, “I told her that we’d pay for her to have a spa treatment or something.”

Sarawat listened to the story with squinted eyes as he tried to understand his partner’s ramblings, “Uh huh. Well since you tortured our surrogate, I’ll send her wherever she wants.”

“I didn’t torture her. Whatever, Scrubb’s amazing. You guys are just clearly uncultured.” Tine muttered under his breath as his eyes scanned the parking lot for the car. “Let’s go home. I need a shower and a nap.” He was about to move when he suddenly whipped his head in Sarawat’s direction, “Where are the boys?” He asked in a panic.

“Teddi’s watching them. Figured it was time she earned her keep.” Sarawat schooled his expression to be as serious as he could make it. “Plus Dean’s pretty responsible.”

Tine narrowed his sleepy looking eyes, “I’m way too tired to figure out if you’re joking or not and I’m not afraid to kick you right in the shin if I need to.” He threatened, but Sarawat knew that Tine was only kidding. Well, he knew that he was slightly kidding.

He smirked, “Our mom’s dropped by.” Sarawat shrugged. It was slightly a half truth. Their moms had in fact dropped by because Sarawat had called them and asked them to. Their brothers also came and Sarawat’s friends. Oh and Tine’s friend’s. And of course their dad’s had come with their moms as well. “And a few others.” Sarawat added as he glanced to the side before he looked over at Tine. Tine frowned.

“A few others?” He questioned as they looked both ways and crossed the parking lot with the baby.

“Yea, our brothers.” Sarawat opened the door to the backseat for Tine to lean in. He took the baby bag from his husband’s shoulder. Tine put his knee on the seat and carefully placed May into her car seat, making sure to secure her in safely before sliding in beside her. Sarawat was relieved that Tine hadn’t asked him to hold May before he settled her in. He put the bag on Tine’s lap.

“Just our brothers?” Tine asked before Sarawat closed the door. Sarawat slowly opened the door to the driver’s side and slid into his seat.

“And some friends.” He coughed out as he pulled on his seatbelt. He heard Tine groan behind him.

“I really just wanted to nap and shower.” He could hear Tine sigh, “She barely slept and she cried a lot.” He mumbled. Sarawat felt bad for Tine, especially since he had a pretty relaxing evening with the boys where he had tired them out with multiple soccer games and then got them McDonalds for dinner. They were passed out by eight that night. He looked into the rear view mirror at Tine.

“You can still do that. Everyone wants to see May. Not you little Buffalo.” He smirked and watched as Tine scowl.

“Thanks...ass.” Tine muttered under his breath, but Sarawat could see a small smile forming on his lips.

“I love you too.” He teased before he started the car and headed home to their family and friends.


“Oh my goodness, it’s like I’m holding Tine all over again.” Tine’s mother declared as she held May against her chest and patted her back to soothe her as she hiccupped. “This baby can eat.” She laughed to Sarawat’s mom who was holding Dean in her lap as they sat on the L shaped sectional.

The other woman nodded, “She looks so much like him! The cheeks and the eyes.” She smiled as she hugged Dean close to her. The little boy was reading one of his books as the adults spoke over him. “Are you happy to have a little sister now Dean?” His grandmother holding him asked. Dean looked up from the book and glanced over at the baby.

“Yea, she’s really cute. I want to teach her how to read so I can share my books with her.” He said proudly. “I’m still teaching Benz, but he doesn’t like to sit still for long.” He frowned and glanced over at his brother who was playing a hand game with their uncles Boss, Ohm, Phuak, Fong, Phukong and their cousin Krist. “He only sits when it’s a game.” He shook his head in clear disapproval and looked down at his book again. Sarawat’s mother kissed him on the side of the head.

“You’re such a good big brother.” She spoke into his hair. Sarawat watched the small smile on his son’s face at the praise. He was sitting on the floor beside Man who was watching his own son playing in the game. Sarawat turned to look at him as he brought a glass of juice to his lips. He missed drinking beer, but Tine and he tried to be careful not to drink in front of the boys.

“Krist is getting big.” Sarawat commented as he looked over at the kids playing the game. His gaze slightly moved up and watched as Type sat on another side of the couch and spoke animatedly to his dad about something. Man looked over at Sarawat and nodded.

“Crazy right? He’s going to be thirteen next month.” Man shook his head, “A teenager Wat! Do you remember what we were like as teenagers?” He asked his friend.

Sarawat nodded, “We were horrible.”

“Exactly. We were shitty teens with shittier hormones.” Man frowned, “I don’t want him to be shitty, I just want him to stay that cute eight year old we fostered forever.” He sighed, “Is that too much to ask?” Man brought his glass of lemonade to his lips.

Sarawat laughed, “He’s a really good kid.”

“Oh yea, he’s the best. Laughs at all my jokes when Type won’t.” Man sighed again, “It’s going to be downhill from here man. I know it. The acne is already starting and then next thing you know, he’ll be breaking out of the house and stealing cars.”

“Benz broke out of the house yesterday.” Sarawat informed his friend and Man quickly turned his head to look at him in obvious surprise. “Yep, climbed out the bedroom window and into the tree.”

“What in the what?!” Man exclaimed loudly causing Tine’s friends, Boss, Phukong and Krist to look over. Man turned to look at Benz who was in the middle of their cham cham cham game, “Benz! Are you climbing into trees?!” He questioned the little boy who finally looked over at his dad and uncle. Benz glanced at Sarawat and then bit his lip before he nodded, “Dude! Did you know your dad used to climb the mango tree in your grammies backyard?!” Benz’s eyes widened in shock as Sarawat smacked Man’s arm.

“Don’t tell him that.” He growled in annoyance.

“Oh yea, your dad was always in that tree and your grammie used to yell at him all the time to get out.” Phukong added as he laughed and shook his head, “But you have to be careful because you could get hurt.” He warned the little boy, “Even if it’s secretly really cool that you did that because that tree is huge.” He winked at his nephew.

Type frowned as he looked over at the group, “Yea, don’t get hurt like your papa. He climbed up on the roof and broke his arm.”

Sarawat raised a brow, “Didn’t you dare him to go up there?” He defended his husband who was upstairs sleeping.

Type brought his hand to his chest in feigned offence, “Me?” He glanced nervously at his dad who was watching the whole interaction.

“We all know you made Tine go on that roof, stop it.” Their dad said before rolling his eyes, “Now back to what we were talking about. Did you see the-“ Tine’s dad continued to speak to his eldest son as Sarawat tuned out and watched his son who continued to play the game.

“Krist! How’d you let him beat you again?!” Ohm clutched his head in shock as he watched the battle.

Krist laughed and shrugged, “I dunno, maybe he’s psychic?” Sarawat knew that the twelve year old was a very easy going kid and liked having him around the boys. They tried to meet up with Man and Type at least once a month for family hang out time.

“Alright, move over kid. Let me show you how this game works.” Ohm turned his body towards Benz and pointed his finger at the four year old. “You ready kid?!” He asked.

Benz laughed, “I was born ready Uncle Ohm.” He said in his small squeaky voice which made Sarawat want to laugh.  Sarawat watched the two go three rounds before Ohm lost to Benz. Ohm looked over at Sarawat who was grinning at them.

“What are you feeding this kid Wat?”

Sarawat shrugged, “Human food.”

Ohm scoffed, “Let’s go again.”

“No no, it’s my turn,” Phuak interjected as he moved in to play against Benz.

May started to cry which pulled Sarawat’s attention over to her. His dad was now holding the baby in his arms as she wailed.

“Uh oh, I think she needs to be changed by her daddy!” His dad exclaimed as he rocked the bawling baby. Sarawat’s blood ran cold as his dad slowly made his way to him. If he could just get his dad to carry her to the nursery, then he could probably figure out the diaper situation.

“What’s wrong?” A voice sounded from the stairs and Sarawat let out a sigh of relief as he watched a sleepy looking Tine.

His dad turned towards Tine and headed in that direction, “I think she needs to be changed.”

“Aw okay,” Tine took the baby into his arms and nuzzled her cheek, “That’s okay, papa will change you.”

“Tine are you sure?” Sarawat called out, “I could come up and change her.”

Tine shook his head, “Nope, I’m good. Can you make her a bottle though?” Sarawat nodded and hurried off to the kitchen to make a bottle for her with the formula.

He splashed the warm liquid on to his wrist to check the temperature. He wasn’t exactly sure that was what he was supposed to do, but he figured it couldn’t hurt. The boys didn’t drink from bottles when they had gotten them. They were eating solid foods by that point. “Finished?” Tine’s voice behind him scared him into almost dropping the bottle.

“Woah.” He chuckled and then nodded before he tried to hand it over to Tine. “Here it’s not hot.”

Tine watched him for a second and then smiled, “No you feed her this time. I don’t think you have yet.” He raised a brow, “Or did you feed her when I was asleep?”

Sarawat wanted to say yes that he had fed her, it was right there on the tip of his tongue. He shook his head no and looked at May who was sucking on her fingers again. “No, your mom did.”

“Okay, here hold her and feed her.” Tine moved closer to Sarawat and Sarawat slightly took a step back.

“Can’t you hold her and I feed her?” Saraat asked, his voice faltering a bit as he looked at Tine.

Tine frowned, “I could, but why would I do that?” Laughter sounded from the living room as the men silently watched each other.

“Woah, Dean beat Benz! Good job, Benz is the king, but now we have a new competitor!” Fong’s voice rang out.

Sarawat glanced over Tine’s shoulder, “Should we go and see what’s happening?” He asked Tine in an attempt to change the topic. The baby in his husband’s arms began to gurgle and spit all over her fingers.

“Wat,” Tine continued to rock May, “What’s wrong?” His brow creased with worry as he looked at Sarawat. “Remember what the counsellor said, we have to share no matter what.” Tine’s eyes searched his own before he looked away. Yes, he remembered what the counsellor had told them. At first he had hated going there and had walked out on their first session. Who was that lady to tell him what he thought? She didn’t know him or Tine. He hated talking. He was just a quiet person, what was wrong with that? He only wanted to go because Tine wanted them to do it, but after the first two months Sarawat had slowly started opening up and revealing his innermost thoughts. The experience really had brought them together. Even though he still struggled to open up at times, like right now, he was normally much better at it. The last time they had seen her was when they were first eager to adopt a child. The process had brought out a lot of anxieties and concerns from the both of them. Fortunately it was addressed and they had gotten Dean. “Do you not want the baby?” Tine asked in a strangled whisper as his features contorted in fear.

Sarawat immediately shook his head as a pained expression creased his face, “What? No. That’s not even-“ He sputtered out in shock at the fact he had given off that impression, “It was love at first sight. Just like when we saw the boys the first time.” He sighed and rolled his eyes, “It’s stupid. I’m just-,” He paused and stared at Tine who looked confused, “I’m scared I’ll drop her or squeeze her too hard or something.” He mumbled out, “She’s so small Tine. So fragile.” He turned his head to glance away. There. It was all out now. He prepared himself for Tine to laugh at his stupidity. But it never came.

Tine walked in front of him and reached out with his free hand to turn Sarawat’s face towards him. Sarawat sighed before Tine pressed a soft kiss to his mouth and then pulled back, “Wat, I’ve never held a baby before May and I was nervous as hell. But, she’s pretty light and she doesn’t fuss too much yet.” Tine looked at the baby in his arms, “You won’t drop her. I know you won’t.”

Sarawat surveyed her too and grimaced, “You don’t know that.”

“I know that you would never let anything ever happen to this family. Right?” Tine quizzed and Sarawat reluctantly nodded, “Exactly, so you have nothing to worry about. I mean how long were you going to try to not hold her? A week?”

“Until she was two.” Sarawat slowly admitted. Hearing it out loud made him cringe inside. Tine gaped at his husband.

“I love you, but that has to be the stupidest thing you have ever said. And you’ve said a lot of stupid things before. Trust me.” Tine grinned and then slowly sobered up as his eyes studied Sarawat’s face. “Wait, is there something else?”

Sarawat stared back at him and then glanced down at the baby before swallowing hard. With his free hand he rubbed his fingers over the chubby little hand that was currently connected to May’s gummy mouth. He didn’t really know how to communicate this part. There was a fear that Tine would be offended or upset if he did and he didn’t want to hurt his husband. But he had learned his lesson and knew that he needed to communicate his concern. He licked his lips and took in a deep breath, “Will she still love me even though I’m not-“ He swallowed again and allowed himself to look into Tine’s face, “-her real dad?”

Tine’s lips slightly parted as what Sarawat had said seemed to register in his mind, “Real dad?” Tine repeated, “Am I her real dad because we share DNA?”

Sarawat shrugged, “I don’t know. Maybe she’ll think that way when she understands.”

Tine frowned, “So are Benz and Dean not ours because we’re not blood related? So am I the only dad now because May was born?” Tine’s tone was hurt and Sarawat understood why.

“No, you know what I mean Tine.” It was different with the boys, because they were both unrelated to them. May would have deeper connections to Tine that Sarawat felt he could never compete with and he was terrified of disappointing her or getting hurt when she didn’t view him as her father.

“Do I?” Tine rocked the baby in his arms as she became a bit fussier, “Do you love Dean and Benz?” Sarawat nodded, “Would you do anything for them? Have you raised them? Do you put their needs ahead of yours? Are you at their games and their recitals? Do you go to parent teacher meetings? Do you teach them guitar and write silly songs with them?” Tine rambled off the list of questions.

“Yea. I do.” Sarawat said slowly, his voice cracking, as his husband’s eyes softened.

“You’re their dad and you’re one of the best dads Wat.” Tine’s voice was low, but firm. “It doesn’t matter whose blood runs through May, she’s our daughter and we’re both equally her dads. Nothing will ever change that.”

Sarawat let out the breath he had been holding and nodded, “You’re right. It’s going to take me a sec to push that feeling down, but yea.”

“She’s going to love you.” Tine continued, “I know what’s going on in your head because I’m the prince of insecure thoughts so I’m going to say to you what you said to me every day after therapy.” Sarawat looked down at his feet. He knew what Tine was going to say and he knew how it was going to make him feel. “You are enough. You are more than enough. And I love you.” Sarawat rubbed the back of his neck as he pressed his lips together. The hairs on his arms stood on end as the words really hit him. He felt a hand against the back of his head and slightly looked up into his husband’s face. Tine pressed their foreheads together as May stuck her arms out in front of her.

Sarawat sniffed, “When did you get so smart?” He lightly chuckled as he placed his hand on Tine’s hip and relished the warmth of Tine’s head against his.

“To be honest, I personally think it was since birth, but some would say kindergarten.” Tine laughed and then leaned back to look at Sarawat.  “You helped me fight those nagging thoughts that told me I wasn’t worth it and I’ll help you too.” Tine smiled.  Sarawat’s heart pounded in his chest as he watched the man in front of him. No matter what they went through as a couple, he couldn’t imagine what his life would have been without Tine. For years people thought that Tine was the lucky one for being with Sarawat, but Sarawat knew that it was truly the other way around.

“Thanks nuisance.”

“Anytime S-A-R-A-L-E-O” He spelled out the word, “Don’t want to swear in front of the baby.” Tine flashed his teeth.

“Pretty sure you called me an ass earlier today.” Sarawat accused him. Tine shook his head in disagreement.

“I would never do such a thing in front of such young ears.” He smirked at Sarawat. The baby turned her face towards Tine’s chest and opened her mouth as if she wanted to suckle at his breast. Sarawat laughed.

“She’s just like me. Fixated on her papa’s chest.” Sarawat joked.

“Alright alright, May’s hungry. Come on. Hold your arms out like I’m doing.” Tine instructed his husband. Sarawat sighed before he put down the bottle and nervously held out his arms as if he was cradling an invisible bag of potatoes. Tine looked at him and shook his head, “How big do you think our baby is?” He teased, “Make the space smaller.” Sarawat pursed his lips together and moved his arms more towards his body. “Good, now close your eyes.”

“Nuisance, how is closing my eyes going to help.”

“Just do it!” Tine ordered. Sarawat frowned and reluctantly closed his eyes before he felt a slight weight in his arms and a soft kiss to his cheek. He opened one eye and looked down at May who was staring up at him.

“Oh my god,” He opened his other eye and stared down at the beautiful little girl in his arms. How could he have avoided holding her for so long? She was perfect. “She’s so beautiful.” He whispered as warmth took over his entire being. “She’s lighter than my laptop.” He observed as Tine held the bottle out to him. Sarawat stared at it and then looked at the baby, “Uh, I don’t have a free hand.”

“Yes you do.” Tine slowly pulled Sarawat’s left arm away from the cradle position.

“Tine stop, wait, I might-“ He couldn’t finish his sentence as Tine thrust the bottle into his free hand as Sarawat held May securely against his chest with his right. “Oh.” He looked at the bottle and then at Tine who was giving him a smug look.

“I’m going to go put the boys to bed and then I’m going to say goodnight to everyone and tell them to come back next Saturday because I think we’re in for a long night with this one.” Tine smoothed his hand over her silky black hair. “You got this.” Tine placed a quick peck to Sarawat’s nose.

“Thank you.” Sarawat said quietly as he looked at his husband. The familiar fluttering in his heart was there as they watched each other. Tine beamed a tired smile at him and then walked off to grab their sons. Sarawat brought the nipple of the bottle to May’s mouth and brushed it against her lips. She happily latched on. He rocked her gently against his chest and began softly humming.  Her eyes settled on to her dad’s face as he continued to murmur the unfamiliar melody that had somehow infiltrated his mind. What was he humming? He wondered as his eyes slightly closed and the words began to take shape behind his eyelids. With the corner of his wrist he pushed up his glasses and still managed to hold the bottle in his hand. His eyes flew open as the tune in his head began to solidify. Ah, now he understood what was happening. He chuckled as his gaze settled on his daughter once again. “You’re my new muse May.” He said softly as he continued to write the song for her in his head. He’d have to write it down later. The sounds of small feet running across the floor grew nearer as the boys bolted into the kitchen. Tine tiredly followed behind them.

“Dad!” Benz clasped his hands together, “Can we stay up just a teeny bit more?” He begged. “Dean and I want to play more of the game with everyone.”

Dean shook his head, “Not me. I’m pretty sleepy.” Benz whipped his head in his brother’s direction and scowled. “Want me to read that Lego book to you again?” The older brother asked. Benz pouted, but nodded his head.

“Alright. Time to say goodnight.” Tine picked up both boys around their middles and stepped towards Sarawat. He twisted to one side so that Benz could lean in to his dad.

“Night dad.” Benz threw his arms around Sarawat’s neck. Sarawat leaned his head against the side of the smaller boys.

“Love you. Night.” He smiled into Tine’s face as their youngest continued to hold him. Benz pulled back and blew a kiss at May.

“Love you too.” Benz said with a yawn. Tine twisted to the other side so that Dean could say goodnight.

“Night dad.” The older boy leaned his head down and Sarawat kissed his forehead.

“Love you.”

“Love you too. Night May.” Dean reached out and touched her chubby fingers, with a small smile on his face. Tine put their sons down and they ran off towards the living room area.

“See you in a bit.” Tine said as he looked down and played with May’s little feet. Her toes curling up at the touch. He glanced up at Sarawat, “Call me if you need me.”

Sarawat nodded and leaned in to press their lips together. The sounds of their sons saying goodnight to everyone, Teddi’s nails clipping on the floor as she entered the kitchen, and May’s gentle breathing filled the space. Tine reached up and placed his hand on the side of Sarawat’s face, rubbing his cheek as they kissed. These were the small moments that Sarawat stored into his memory. With a sigh, Tine pulled back, and placed one last kiss to Sarawat’s lips. He gave Sarawat a broad smile before retreating back into the living room. The amount of love he felt for the other man was indescribable. Even as they got older and dealt with so much more stress, he just felt even more in love with his husband. He knew that not every married couple felt that way and he was thankful.

As he mused, the bottle in his hand slightly shifted causing some of the formula to dribble out from May’s mouth and down her cheek. “Uh-oh,” He looked around, grabbed a piece of paper towel from the counter, pulled the bottle out of her mouth, and dabbed gently at the mess on her face. He’d have to ask Tine where her spit up cloths were later. As she began to fuss and angrily show off her tiny gums, he gave her back the bottle. Sarawat smiled at her, lowered his head, and dragged his lips across her brow, “I love you. You can have all the bottles you want.” He grinned as she sucked hungrily on the drink, her little feet moving happily as she ate. She really was just like Tine. Sarawat smiled as he watched her little toes. Their little family had grown by two feet and it was now officially complete.


Sarawat finished cleaning up the kitchen and turned off the lights in the downstairs area. It had been nice having their family over and he was happy to see that they had been just as excited as they had been to meet May. Teddi had kept him company as Tine stayed upstairs with the three kids. She followed after him as he made his way out of the kitchen. He plodded barefoot along the floor and made sure that the doors were locked and that the security system had been armed.

They fortunately hadn’t had much media attention for years since they had adopted the boys. Apparently having children was enough to kill any media interest in their lives as they had officially become the old boring couple in the eyes of the public. There had only been a big interest in them in the past year when it had gotten out that Mil had been arrested for insider trading within his architecture company. He was sent to prison for two years and received a massive fine as an additional penalty. The boys had been so confused as they watched Tine and Sarawat dance happily in front of the news program on TV. They had to come up with a quick story as to why their wedding picture had been on the screen. Tine had managed to come up with an excuse and said that they were just showing off people’s wedding pictures. Dean had been sceptical but accepted it, whereas Benz was absolutely disinterested in what was going on.  

Sarawat tried his best not to stomp up the stairs and entered his bedroom to find Tine walking back and forth with a fussy May. There was a Scrubb song playing at a low volume from Tine’s phone. Dean and Benz were sleeping soundly on their parent’s bed, undisturbed by their papa’s familiar music. Sarawat raised a brow as he took in the scene. Teddi happily jumped on the bed and curled up at the foot of it. “When you said you were putting the boys to bed, I thought you meant their own.” Sarawat whispered as he closed the door gently behind him. Tine looked over at him and frowned.

“I did put them in their room, but they said they couldn’t sleep so,” Tine sighed, “Here we are. It’s a full house tonight.” He frowned, “Also, the Scrubb music thing was a fluke. It clearly does not put May to sleep.” He shook his head in dismay and looked like he was about to fall apart, “I was wrong.” The bags under his husband’s eyes seemed more prominent and his hair was somehow neat on one side and tousled on the other. Sarawat was a bit concerned. It was only May’s first night home and both of her dads seemed like they couldn’t get it together. He knew it was time that he stepped up to the plate and helped Tine out.

Sarawat frowned and stepped over to his husband. He reached out his arm and let his hand settle on the back of Tine’s neck, gently massaging the tension there. Tine’s eyes fluttered at the contact. “I can rock May. You go to sleep.” He instructed his husband who looked as if he were about to collapse in exhaustion.

“Take off your shirt.” Tine suddenly commanded. Sarawat’s eyebrows rose towards his hairline. It was true that they didn’t have as much sex since they had the boys. They were lucky if they could grab ten minute quickies in the laundry room, or had sleepy sex at four in the morning, but Sarawat was shocked that Tine would be in the mood now. As if seeing what he was thinking Tine scowled, “So perverted and not what I meant. Just take your shirt off and lie down on the bed.”

Sarawat smirked, “Sounds familiar.” He said in hushed tones as he took off his glasses, put them on the table, pulled his shirt up over his head, and gently slid Benz over on the mattress towards his brother. That way Sarawat could fit uncomfortably on the edge of the king sized bed.

“I read about this in a book. It’s called skin to skin.” Tine explained as he walked over to him with May and delicately placed her on Sarawat’s bare chest. Her soft cheek pressed right against his sternum as her legs pulled up, and her arms nestled beneath her body. She immediately stopped fussing and quieted down. Sarawat stared at the top of her head in awe as he watched her rise and fall on his chest as he breathed in and out. Tine carefully put her baby hat on her head. “There, just keep her like that until you feel like you’re about to fall asleep. Then put her in,” He pulled the bassinet over beside the bed, “here.” Tine’s body shook as a long yawn overtook him. His eyes scanned the bed and he frowned, “Maybe I can sleep in one of the boy’s beds or the couch.” He thought out loud.

“Tine, turn off the light and come lie down beside me.” Sarawat placed one hand on May’s back and beckoned Tine over.

“There’s so little space.” Tine pointed to the bed as he turned off the music on his phone.

Sarawat pouted, “I can’t sleep without you next to me.” He gave Tine the best puppy dog eyes he could muster, “Just lie down between the kids. They’re small.” Tine looked at him for a moment and then glanced at the door before he sighed.

“Fine. But if my back hurts tomorrow, you’re giving me a deep tissue massage.” Tine’s eyes struggled to stay open as he peeled off his shirt, threw it in the hamper and turned off the main light in the bedroom leaving them in complete darkness. “Shit,” Tine whispered. Sarawat switched his hand on May’s back and reached back to turn on the bedside lamp beside him, illuminating that corner of the room. “Thanks.” Tine crawled on to the bed between their sons and adjusted them so that Benz was curled into Tine’s side and Dean was held back from the side of the bed with Tine’s arm. Sarawat watched his husband in awe. His heart thudded in his chest as he watched the other man try to get comfortable with the little space he had. Once he had adjusted as best as he could, Tine looked over to the right at May laying on Sarawat’s body and then his eyes focused on Sarawat who was still staring at him. Tine gave a small tired smile before yawning again. “What? Do I have something on my face?” He asked, wiggling his eyebrows as a call back to their earlier conversation. Sarawat shook his head and smoothed his hand along May’s back. Tine’s eyes took her in once again, “She’s sleeping.” He whispered happily, “Good job.” His eyes twinkled as his attention moved on to Sarawat.

Sarawat took in a deep breath and let it out through his nose as he watched Tine. What he was about to say had been in his mind for years now, but it wasn’t until this very second where they were nestled up with their three kids and Teddi, that he truly felt the need to finally say what he had been thinking. “Marry me.” He said quietly, but loud enough for Tine to hear.

“What?” Tine questioned almost too loudly as Benz stirred in his sleep.

“Shh.” Sarawat hushed him and tried not to laugh.

“Sorry,” Tine made an embarrassed face and then scrunched up his nose, “Did you say marry you?”

Sarawat nodded, “Yea.”

Tine twisted his mouth, “How tired are you? We’re already married, you weirdo. Remember, it was a whole big thing. Scandal. Paparazzi. Shame. Love, etc.”

“Oh yea? Must have missed it.” Sarawat joked and Tine frowned, “Yea, I know. But I want to do a vow renewal with you. I want the kids to be a part of it.” He gave a small smile, “May can be a flower girl when she learns to walk and the boys ring bearers.” He watched as Tine’s eyes scanned over his face, “I want us to say I do in front of our family and friends, but this time we know we’re agreeing to forever, not just a year.” He sighed, “And this time we’ll both be in love.” Sarawat let his left hand fall to his side as he watched his husband. “I love you little Buffalo.” He smiled and noticed the slight blush on Tine’s cheeks, “Will you marry me? Again.”

Tine grinned and Sarawat felt his husband’s hand brush against the side of his own before they intertwined their fingers against the mattress. “I love you too. And of course I will.” Tine smiled and closed his eyes, “Wat?”

Sarawat raised a brow, “Yea?”

Tine yawned, “Remind me about this conversation in the morning okay?”

“Why?”

Tine grinned as his eyes remained closed, “Just want to make sure it’s not a dream.” He yawned again, “I think... I’m falling... asl-“ Sarawat stared at Tine as the other man’s conversation was abruptly cut off. A soft snore sounded from Tine’s open mouth. Sarawat stifled a chuckle as he watched as Tine’s hair fell across his forehead. He would normally reach out and brush it back, but his one hand was holding May and his other was still interlocked with Tine’s. His eyes scanned over the scene in front of him as he watched Benz bury his face against Tine’s rib. Dean rolled over and threw his arm over Tine’s chest and Teddi was curled up in a ball between Tine’s legs. He always knew that Tine would be a good dad, but he would have never guessed how amazing he would be. His eyes settled on the baby sleeping on him. He knew he was a good father too and that Tine was right, he would always be there for their kids. There was still a part of him that knew he would still struggle with the feelings of being an inadequate father to May as she got older and understood more, but knowing he would have Tine by his side assured him that he’d be able to push through it.

He adjusted her little hat and stroked the side of her cheek. Sarawat slowly untangled his hand from Tine’s and placed it on the back of May’s head to support it as he carefully sat up. He leaned over and put her into the bassinet beside him, covering her with a light blanket. She made a small snorting sound before she settled in. The breath he had been holding in anticipation of her waking up slowly expelled through his mouth. He watched over her for a few minutes before he leaned back into the bed and scooted down to his original position. Sarawat threaded his fingers with Tine’s slender ones once again, rubbing his thumb over the smooth skin. He gave a contented sigh. No matter the heartache he had gone through in his life with his pining after Tine, the arrangement, the ups and downs, minus the lying, he knew as he looked at his husband and the family that they had built, that he would do it all over again in a second. With one last sweeping look at everyone, he moved his arm to the side and did his best to reach the side table. He turned off the lamp beside him before joining the rest of his family in their slumber.